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East Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen doctors call on parents to act on flu vaccine letter

Parents with young children are being urged to get them vaccinated against the misery of flu as winter approaches.

Children aged between two and eight on or before 31 August 2016 will be eligible for a free flu vaccination.

Doctors from East Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen are urging parents and guardians to look out for a letter offering their child the opportunity. Two and three year olds will be offered vaccinations at their GP surgeries and for older children, letters will be sent home from school.

Vaccination is also the best way to protect older and more vulnerable family members as children are the main carriers of the virus.

Dr Preeti Shukla, GP clinical lead at both Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), said:

“We know coughs and colds are already starting to spread which means flu season is right behind. Children are more vulnerable and can be hit hard by flu. In fact, healthy children under the age of five are more likely to have to be admitted to hospital with flu than any other age group. In addition, they spread infections easily. They’re not bothered about using tissues properly, covering their mouth when they cough and sneeze, or keeping their hands clean. And if they’re around pregnant women, family members or friends that are over 65 or who have a health condition, they’re putting them at risk too.”

The vaccination is the best protection against what is an unpredictable virus. It can cause severe illness and can even be fatal in some cases. It’s also vital that children get vaccinated every year, vaccines are not for life and just as the virus changes each year so does the vaccine – it will protect your child and those they come into contact with.

Dr Shukla added:

“So we’re asking that parents and carers pay attention to the letter they will be receiving. The nasal spray flu vaccine is very safe and has very few side effects – the main one is getting a runny nose after vaccination for a few days. And children with long-term health conditions up to the age of 17 are eligible to receive a free flu vaccination at their GP practice or local pharmacy.

If you haven’t received a letter, contact your child’s school or your GP practice.

For more information visit www.nhs.uk/staywell