Warning about danger of flu as child vaccination programme starts in Wigan
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Each winter thousands of children go to hospital for treatment, including intensive care, with those under five being among the highest rates of hospital admissions due to flu.
In a bid to stop flu spreading this winter – both among youngsters and those around them, including babies and grandparents – flu vaccinations are now available for children aged two to three, those at school and tots over six months old with certain health conditions.
Rachael Musgrave, Wigan Council’s director of public health, highlighted the importance of the programme to protect people from flu.
She said: “We need to remember that influenza is a potentially life-threatening illness.
"With children recently returning to school, flu vaccination protects them and other people, particularly those who may be vulnerable to the potentially dangerous complications of flu.
“The fast nasal spray flu vaccine is a quick, easy and proven way to help keep children well and protect their relatives, friends and other families.”
Flu rates rebounded last winter after being kept low during the pandemic due to coronavirus control measures, with preliminary analysis by the UK Health Security Agency finding deaths linked to flu last winter were the highest since 2017-18.
Nationally, more than 10,000 children were hospitalised last winter due to the infection, with vaccination effectiveness data showing it reduced the risk of hospitalisation by two-thirds.
Parents are being urged to ensure consent forms are completed for pupils to get vaccinated at school or that GP appointments are made for younger children.
More than one million children across the North West, from reception to year 11, are eligible for the flu vaccine in the form of a nasal spray, delivered in schools by immunisations teams.
Children aged two and three on August 31 are eligible for a free nasal spray via their GP practice.
Children aged between six months and two years with a long-term health condition which puts them at higher risk from flu will be offered an injection instead of the nasal spray.