The parents of thousands of children in Brighton and Hove are missing out on their free flu vaccine, according to health chiefs.
They are being urged to ensure that their children are protected now to reduce the risk of them becoming seriously ill and infecting their wider family.
The plea was made by the Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
The CCG said: “Flu symptoms come on very quickly and can be a very unpleasant illness in children with symptoms including fever, stuffy nose dry cough, sore throat, aching muscles and joints and extreme tiredness, which can often last several days.
“Children can face serious complications from flu, including a painful ear infection, acute bronchitis and pneumonia, so some may even need hospital for treatment.
“Last year saw eight under 18 year olds ending up in hospital Brighton and Hove due to flu, costing the NHS more than £18,000, which may have been avoided by them claiming their free flu vaccine.”
Downs Infant School head Hildi Mitchell said that the vaccine brought benefits for the school.
Dr Mitchell said: “As a school we value anything that can minimise absence and disruption to our children’s development and learning.
“Illnesses spread very quickly through classrooms and the more children who are vaccinated, the better.”
The CCG said: “Those who get the flu will get better more quickly if they
• get plenty of rest and sleep
• make sure they keep warm
• take paracetamol or ibuprofen
• drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration
“A pharmacist can help with flu, offering treatment advice and recommend flu remedies, and give guidance on giving medicines to children.
More information about spotting symptoms and treating flu is available online at www.nhs.uk.”
CCG clinical chair David Supple said: “We are urging parents of young children to protect them from the flu virus by getting them vaccinated now.”
Dr Supple said: “The children’s flu vaccine nasal spray is safe and tailored each year to specific flu viruses – so please claim this free NHS offer and please remember to sign and return vaccine permission forms if sent by your children’s schools.”
The CCG said that children needed to be vaccinated even if they had the flu vaccination last year.
The vaccine is available free on the NHS for eligible children, including
• children aged 2 and 3 on August 31 2018 at GPs
• children in reception class and school years 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 at school
• children aged 2 to 17 with long-term health conditions at GPs