Parents from across Norfolk and Waveney are being urged to protect their children from flu this winter by getting a simple, pain-free nasal spray from their practice nurse or school.
Flu can be a very unpleasant illness for children, with potentially serious complications including bronchitis and pneumonia. But protecting them is simple, and involves a single squirt of vaccine sprayed up each nostril.
The spray is not only needle-free – a big advantage for children – but is also quick and painless. The vaccine is absorbed very quickly, and will still work even if a child develops a runny nose, sneezes or blows their nose after having the spray.
This year, the vaccine will be available free on the NHS for eligible children, including:
- children aged two, three and four on 31 August 2016 (who will usually be given the vaccine by a practice nurse at their GP surgery)
- children in school years one, two and three (who will usually have their vaccination at school)
- children aged two to 17 with long-term health conditions such as diabetes, who will need to have the nasal spray instead of the flu jab, which they were previously given
Over the next few years, the programme will be extended gradually to include older children.
GP practices and schools will get in touch with parents about the vaccination over the coming weeks. Anyone who hasn’t heard from their GP by November should contact them directly to make an appointment. Anyone with any questions should talk to their GP practice or their child’s school nurse.
The flu vaccine for children has a good safety record. In the UK, millions of children have been vaccinated safely and successfully.
The vaccine contains live but weakened flu viruses that do not cause flu in children and help them build up immunity to flu in a similar way as natural infection, but without the symptoms.
Because the main flu viruses change each year, a new nasal spray vaccine has to be given each year, in the same way as the injectable flu vaccine.
For further information, visit www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vaccinations/Pages/child-flu-vaccine-questions-and-answers.aspx