Thousands of toddlers in city missing out on free flu vaccine

Thousands of two and three year olds in Brighton and Hove are missing out on their free flu vaccine, putting them at risk of becoming seriously if they get flu and badly affecting their wider family, the local NHS is warning. Just over 700 eligible toddlers had the child-friendly quick and painless nasal spray by the peak of last year’s flu season, which means more than 3,000 were not protected. Overall, less than 28 per cent of 2-4 year olds in the city had their free vaccination. Last year saw eight under 18 year olds ending up in hospital in Brighton and Hove due to flu. Those children needing medical care due to flu caused extra strain on local hospitals last year and cost the NHS more than a £18,000. Local doctors believe this could have been avoided had those eligible taken up the opportunity to get their free jab. Flu can be a very unpleasant illness in children causing fever, stuffy nose dry cough, sore throat, aching muscles and joints and extreme tiredness, which can often last several days. Some children can get a very high fever, sometimes without the usual flu symptoms, and may need to go to hospital for treatment. Serious complications of flu include a painful ear infection, acute bronchitis and pneumonia. Allison Cannon, Chief Nurse and Director of Quality for East Surrey and Sussex Clinical Commissioning Groups, said: “It is important we protect young children from the flu virus and get them vaccinated now. Children can become very poorly if they catch flu and we know this can affect the wider family as parents or carers may get ill themselves or have to take time off work to provide care. “Protecting your child can stop flu spreading to other children and the family, especially babies and grandparents, who may be at higher risk from getting seriously ill if they catch flu. The nasal spray is safe and tailored each year to specific flu viruses – so please claim this free NHS offer.” It is important to get children vaccinated even if they had the flu vaccination last year. This year, the vaccine will be available free on the NHS for eligible children, including: • children aged 2 and 3 on August 31 2018 at GPs • children in reception class and school years 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 at school • children aged 2 to 17 with long-term health conditions at GPs Find out more about the children's flu vaccine at www.nhs.uk/flu

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