As children head back to school following the Christmas holidays, GPs are encouraging parents who haven’t already done so to ensure their children get a free flu vaccination.
Dr Lorna Clarson is a North Staffordshire GP and mum with a young child who has received the vaccination.
She said: “Many parents think flu is just a bad cold. It’s not. Flu can cause serious complications. Every year some children with flu become extremely ill and many of these would have been protected if they had received their free vaccination.
“Unvaccinated children are not only at risk of getting flu but can pass it on to others, including elderly or frail people who could be especially vulnerable.”
Children who are eligible for flu vaccines from their local GP surgery include:
- Children aged two and three (born between 1 September 2013 and 31 August 2015). For younger children the vaccine is a nasal spray not an injection.
- Children who are recently 4 years old are also eligible for flu vaccination provided they were aged three on 31 August 2017.
- Children in reception class and school years one, two, three and four
- Children aged 2 to 17 with long-term health conditions such as asthma
Vaccinating the majority of children can help stop flu circulating among the wider population protecting all those into contact and stopping it spreading to friends and family.
Dr Clarson, who is Clinical Director for Partnerships and Engagement with Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire CCGs added: “If your child is showing symptoms of a cold or flu, the best thing you can do is make sure they have lots of rest and fluids.
“Talk to the pharmacist about over the counter remedies. Antibiotics will not help. Keep them home and away from friends or family members that are over 65, are pregnant or have a long-term condition so they do not pass it on. And if you need advice when the pharmacists are closed call 111 to talk to the NHS. You’ll be advised on the best course of action.”
For more information on colds and flu including a symptoms checker visit NHS Choices www.nhs.uk