Parents of children aged between two and four in Newham are being urged to get them vaccinated against flu after a surge in the number of cases across the UK.
Young children can be vaccinated against the virus using a nasal spray vaccine which is free on the NHS and available at GP practices across the borough.
The child-friendly spray, called Fluenz, provides a quick, painless squirt into each nostril.
This protects the child and reduces the spread of flu – helping the whole community.
Children aged from two to 17 with a long-term health condition that puts them at greater risk of flu – such as diabetes – are also eligible for the free nasal spray vaccine.
Dr Prakash Chandra, a local GP and Chair of Newham Clinical Commissioning Group, said:
"It's important we protect young children from the flu virus and get them vaccinated now.
"The flu virus continues to spread in the community affecting people of all ages, and having your child vaccinated provides them with the best form of protection.
"Children can become very poorly if they catch flu. The spray contains viruses that have been weakened to prevent them from causing flu but will help build up immunity."
With many young children in Newham attending school or nursery classes, flu is very easily transmitted – putting those who do not have the vaccine at particular risk.
Because Fluenz enters the body through the nose, it mimics the flu virus and results in a better immune response (protection) than an injected vaccine. This means that, compared with injected and less active vaccines, the free NHS nasal spray:
- is more effective
- provides protection for longer
- may offer protection against slightly different types of flu virus, and
- is easier to give and more comfortable to have.
Dr Chandra added: "Because Fluenz reduces the amount of flu among all children, not just those who have the vaccine, it can help us reduce demand on the NHS during the busy winter season and lead to fewer days missed from childcare, nursery and school.
"This in turn means less worry for parents and less time away from work and other activities caring for children who are unwell, so getting your child vaccinated can help you too.”
If you have any concerns or questions about the children’s nasal spray vaccine or require more information, speak to your GP practice.
To book a flu vaccination for your child in Newham, contact your local GP surgery.