Flu vaccine offered to toddlers for first time
A new flu vaccination for toddlers will be on offer for the first time this winter.
The vaccine will be available to two and three year-olds and doctors with the West Mendip GP Federation will be inviting parents to get their children vaccinated against flu.
This is the first year the vaccine has been made available to this age group. The vaccine will be given as a nasal spray. It’s quick and painless and will mean your child is less likely to become ill if they come into contact with the flu virus.
The nasal spray flu vaccine will be offered routinely on the NHS to all children who were aged two or three on September 1 (2013).
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Dr Nick Matthews, chairman of the West Mendip GP Federation and a GP at the Glastonbury Health Centre said: “Flu can be a very unpleasant illness in children causing fever, stuffy nose, a dry cough and aching muscles and joints.
"The complications of flu can include bronchitis, pneumonia and painful ear infections. Your child won’t be able to go to school or nursery for several days and that can mean being cared for at home or taking time off work to look after them.
“Protecting your child can stop the flu spreading to other children they come into contact with and the rest of the family – particularly grandparents who can be at particular risk of flu and its complications.”
Earlier this year, the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisation (JCVI), an independent advisory body to government, recommended that a child flu vaccination programme should be introduced and would bring health benefits for the whole nation.
Professor Dame Sally Davis, the chief medical officer for England, suggested such benefits could eventually include a reduction in the general level of flu infection throughout the population of England with a potential reduction in death rates amongst the elderly and most vulnerable by some 2,000 cases a year.
The vaccine is not suitable for children who have a weakened immune system, an egg allergy, severe asthma or active wheezing at the time of vaccination.
Children unable to have the nasal spray vaccine may be able to have the flu injection instead.
For more information, speak to your GP, midwife or local pharmacist, or visit the NHS Choices web site at: www.nhs.uk/child-flu