Thousands of toddlers missing out on free flu vaccine

Wednesday 17th October, 2018

children aged 2-3 can get a free nasal flu spray vaccination

Parents are being urged to make sure their children get the free flu vaccine this year – protecting them and their loved ones.

Last year thousands of toddlers and young children across West Sussex missed out on their free flu vaccine, putting them at risk of becoming seriously if they caught flu or from being a ‘super spreader’ in the community.

Of those eligible less than one in two children had the child-friendly quick and painless nasal spray by the peak of last year’s flu season in the county.

That meant that thousands went without the vital protection – both for them and those around them.

This year, the vaccine is available free on the NHS for:

  • children aged 2 and 3 on 31 August 2018 from your child’s GP practice;
  • children in reception class and school years 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 at their school;
  • and children aged 2 to 17 with long-term health conditions from your child’s GP practice.

The consequences of catching the flu can be serious, especially in children.

Last year saw 12 under 18 year olds ending up in hospital the Coastal West Sussex area due to flu.

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.

Find out more about the children's flu vaccine on the NHS Choices website