Protect your children from flu this winter, says local practice nurse Julie Payne.

Practice nurse at Lostock Hall Medical Centre, Julie Payne is urging parents with young children across Lancashire and South Cumbria to get their free flu vaccination now to protect themselves and their children from getting ill this winter.

The NHS across Lancashire and South Cumbria has launched a campaign to ask parents to protect their 2 to 3 year olds from severe illness from flu to take up the offer of the free vaccination at their GP.  Flu is a highly infectious disease and can be dangerous for children and those at risk of serious health complications, including pregnant women.

Children who get the flu have the same symptoms as adults, and some children develop a very high fever or complications of flu (such as bronchitis or pneumonia) and may even need hospital treatment. For them, the flu vaccine is not an injection, just a quick nasal spray from a GP if aged 2 to 3 years old. School children from reception class through to year 4 will get their nasal spray vaccination through their school.

In areas where the flu vaccine was piloted amongst primary school age children, there was a 94% reduction in GP influenza-like illness consultation rates; 74% reduction in A&E respiratory attendances, and 93% reduction in hospital admissions due to confirmed influenza in primary school children.  According to Public Health England, children aged under five years and under have the highest hospital admission rate for flu.

Practice nurse Julie Payne said:  “Flu can be horrible for children, it can lead to serious health problems and they can also spread the virus around the whole family. The flu vaccine protects children, pregnant women and people with long-term health conditions from serious complications if they were to get the flu.

“If you are eligible for the flu vaccine, get them vaccinated and protect them.  Contact your GP to get the flu vaccination.”

Emma Jones, mum to Marcie, 3 said “We missed the flu vaccination last year for Marcie and as a consequence the whole family caught flu.  I have made sure this year Marcie has been vaccinated against the flu.

“It’s not nice to see your children very poorly with flu, my advice to parents if you have a 2 to 3 year old is to get them vaccinated.  It’s a simple nasal spray which is painless and takes a couple of minutes to do but they’re protected from being seriously ill.”

Watch our short film of Marcie having her vaccination https://youtu.be/Um6v6xopuaI  You can find more information about the flu vaccine at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/child-flu-vaccine/  and by following Facebook @NHSCMLSC or on Twitter @NHSEnglandNorth  #SWTWNW or Lostock Hall Medical Centre, Preston @LHMedicalCentre