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Flu vaccination programme extended to thousands more children

Programme will include an extra 600,000 children in year 3 for the first time

Ingrid Torjesen

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Four million children in the UK will be eligible for free flu vaccination this year - about 600,000 more than last year.

The vaccination campaign by NHS England and Public Health England (PHE) will include children in year 3 for the first time.

Children aged two to four will be able to get the vaccination from their GP surgery, and those in years 1, 2 and 3 will be offered the free nasal spray vaccination at school.

As well as offering protection to these children aged 2 to 7 years, officials say the programme will help reduce the spread of this infection to the most vulnerable in the community, particularly younger children, the elderly and those with long-term conditions. Reducing transmission by children can potentially help cut the number of GP appointments and unplanned admissions for children and adults, reducing winter pressures on the NHS. The programme will be extended gradually to older age groups in primary school in future years.

PHE and NHS England have launched a TV, radio and online advertising campaign to target parents and at risk groups after a survey showed that nearly four out of ten (37%) parents of eligible children were unaware of the nasal spray.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said: “Flu can be much more dangerous for children than many parents realise, and when children get flu, they tend to spread it around the whole family. Every year, thousands of children have flu and it is not uncommon for them to be admitted to hospital. The single best way to help protect your children, and the rest of the family, is to get them vaccinated. For most, it is just a quick, easy and painless nasal spray.”

People aged 65 and over, patients with long-term conditions, pregnant women, frontline NHS and social care staff, residents of long stay care homes, and carers are also eligible for the flu vaccine.

Professor Paul Cosford, Director for Health Protection and Medical Director at PHE, said: “I would encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated to help protect themselves and those around them. It is important to get vaccinated every year. Flu is unpredictable and previous years’ vaccinations may not protect you against the types of flu virus circulating this year.”

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