Free flu protection offered to more children

Several million people in the UK get flu each winter, says Public Health England (PHE). But the group most likely to spread flu to others is children.

This year, more schoolchildren will be offered a free nasal spray flu vaccination, as the flu vaccination programme in England for children is being extended to include those in year 3. This, says PHE, will help to protect millions of people most at risk.

“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,” says chief medical officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies.

“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.”

This year, more than four million children will be offered protection against flu, which is 600,000 more than last year. Children aged two, three and four can get the vaccination from their GP. If your child is in year 1, 2 or 3, you’ll be asked for your permission for them to have the free nasal spray vaccination at school.

Easing NHS pressures

Vaccinating more children will also help prevent more people from catching flu, which may reduce the pressure on the NHS this winter. Flu can be particularly dangerous for those with long-term health conditions, as they are more likely to develop a serious illness after having it. Pregnant women are also being encouraged to have a free jab, as flu can cause serious complications for both mothers and their babies.

“Vaccination is the best protection we have against flu, which can cause severe illness and even death among those most at risk,” says Professor Paul Cosford, medical director at PHE. “This group includes pregnant women, people with a long-term health condition and older people.

“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.”

It’s not too late to get your flu jab. If you’re not sure whether or not you’re eligible for a free jab on the NHS, your local pharmacist can advise you. And if you don’t qualify, you can pay for a private flu jab at many Careway pharmacies – it’s a small price to pay to stay healthy this winter.

Find out more by talking to your local pharmacist. Find your nearest participating Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.