Hampshire parents encouraged to get flu jab for their children this autumn

PARENTS are being urged to vaccinate their children against the flu.

The NHS has launched its largest campaign to help more people than ever get protected from the virus and the list of those eligible for free vaccinations has been extended to include school pupils in Year 7.

Children aged two and three on August 2020, children in primary school, and any child aged six months plus with an underlying health condition are also eligible.

Youngsters under the age of five are more likely to be admitted to hospital due to flu than any other age group.

Dr Clare Matthews

Hampshire GP Dr Clare Matthews said: ‘I want to encourage you to get your children vaccinated because the flu is a very common childhood illness and can be really unpleasant for them.

‘Children who are two or three or eligible four-year-olds will be able to have their vaccine done at their GP surgery, while school children will be offered theirs in school.

‘The vaccine is a nasal spray – a single spray up each nostril – it’s quick, it’s painless and it’s really easy.

‘People think ‘it’s just flu’ but unfortunately it can lead to complications and even hospitalisation which is why it’s important to have the vaccination.’

Flu is a highly infectious disease that infects the respiratory system, where it can lead to pneumonia and other complications, and strains of the virus change constantly.

Symptoms include fever, chills, headaches, aches and pains in the joints and muscles, and extreme tiredness.

Parents will receive letters asking for consent for the vaccination.

Solent NHS Trust will be delivering the school vaccination programme across Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight and Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust will be delivering jabs across the rest of the county.

Chief nurse Jackie Ardley said: ‘We are encouraging the families of all Year R to Year 7 children to ensure that their child receives the nasal spray vaccination so that they are protected against the flu this autumn.

‘Letters are being sent to schools outlining how our dedicated teams of nurses will be vaccinating children in sessions, as well as offering evening and Saturday clinics.’

Ginny Taylor, deputy director of operations for children and family services, added: ‘Our schools are instrumental in supporting us to deliver the programme and achieve a very high uptake by ensuring we can offer the flu vaccination to children in school.’

How to get a flu vaccination:

Visit your practice website or speak to your pharmacy about booking a test.

If you have a high temperature, new, continuous cough or a loss of taste and smell, then do not visit your GP practice or pharmacy. Please self-isolate and contact 119 or visit NHS.uk/coronavirus to book a coronavirus test.

If you test positive for coronavirus then please do not attend a flu clinic – contact them to rearrange your appointment.

Who can get a free flu vaccination:

- Anyone aged 65 and over

- pregnant women

- children and adults aged 6 months to 65 years with an underlying health condition

(such as long-term heart or respiratory disease, weakened immune system or have a

learning disability)

- children aged 2 and 3 on 31 August 2020

- children in primary school

- carers

- people living in long stay residential care homes

- frontline health or social care workers

This year it has also been expanded to people living with someone who is at high risk from coronavirus (on the NHS shielded patient list), children in year 7 and people aged 50 to 64 without a long-term condition (from November onwards if sufficient vaccine stock is available)

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