A mother-of-two has spoken about the importance of protecting her children and loved ones as millions of people will be invited to get their flu vaccine from this week.
The invitations are being issued as part of the biggest annual flu drive in NHS history.
Speaking shortly after her 3-year-old year daughter Alana was vaccinated earlier today (14/10), Sabahat Hassan, said: “It’s really important that my daughter gets the flu jab each year as I don’t want her to become unnecessarily unwell. I also know that children can be super spreaders, and the last thing I would like would be for my parents to become unwell because I did not take up the opportunity to vaccinate my child.
Mrs Hassan, who also has a daughter aged 11 that will be receiving her flu vaccine at school in a few weeks’ time, added: “We hear so much about how there will be lots of people falling unwell with flu this winter, and if I can do anything to help stop the virus spreading, then I will. That is why I always get my flu jab as well.”
Around 1.25 million texts and 300,000 emails have already been sent to parents of two and three-year-olds urging them to book an appointment for their children, ahead of what the health service says could be one of its most challenging winters ever.
A further 1.3 million letters will be landing on door steps this weekend outlining how parents can book the vaccine for their toddlers, which can be given at their local GP practice through a nose spray which is quick and painless.
Around 35 million people in England are eligible for a free jab this year, with millions of people already taking up the offer by booking an appointment at their local GP practice or attending a pharmacy.
People who are eligible include all adults over 50, people with certain long-term health conditions, pregnant women, health and social care frontline workers and carers. Those aged 50 to 65 will receive their invitations shortly.
The expansion of the flu programme comes alongside warnings that there could be a 50% increase in cases of flu this year.
Following one of the busiest summers on record for the NHS staff, health bosses are urging people to get their flu vaccine and covid booster vaccine ahead.
The covid booster rollout is well underway with the NHS delivering more than two million top up jabs – less than one month since the JCVI updated their guidance.
Vaughan Lewis, Medical Director for NHS England and NHS Improvement’s South East region, said: “Each year, the NHS vaccinates millions of people against flu, and this year it is even more important than ever that eligible children and adults take up the offer of a free flu vaccine, as we head towards what is likely to be a very challenging winter for the NHS.”
“Infection with the flu virus has a serious impact on the health of thousands of people every winter, and getting your child vaccinated will protect them, and reduce the chance of them passing it to other family members and loved ones, so please book an appointment for your child as soon as possible.”
Even if your child had a flu vaccination last year as the type of flu virus varies each winter, it is important to have the flu vaccine every year to stay protected, stay well and protect the NHS.
This year the nasal spray flu vaccine is free on the NHS for:
- children aged 2 or 3 years on 31 August 2021 – born between 1 September 2017 and 31 August 2019
- all primary school children (reception to year 6)
- all year 7 to year 11 children in secondary school
- children aged 2 to 17 years with long-term health conditions
Flu symptoms can appear very quickly and include a high temperature about 38C, aching an aching body, feeling exhausted, sore throat and runny nose and loss of appetite. Children may also become less active and get ear pain.
Some people may be eligible for both the flu and the Covid-19 booster vaccines, with research showing if people get Covid and flu at the same time you are likely to become seriously ill.