Parents in Tower Hamlets are being urged to get their children vaccinated for flu this winter.
Without the flu vaccination children are more likely to contract the flu at nursery or school and then spread the virus at a rapid rate, posing a particular risk to other people at higher risk like babies and the elderly.
For children, the nasal spray flu vaccine is free on the NHS for children aged 2 or 3; all primary school children (reception to year 6); all year 7 in a secondary school; and children aged 2 to 17 years with long-term health conditions. The flu jab is also available for free to pregnant women.
In Tower Hamlets last year only 30% of children aged 2 and 3 years old had their free flu vaccine and only half of those eligible for the flu jab at all ages chose to get vaccinated.
The child nasal vaccination is available from your GP, pregnant women can get a flu jab from their midwife and school-age children will be offered at school.
If you're at higher risk from coronavirus, you're also more at risk of problems from flu; and if you get flu and coronavirus at the same time, research shows you're more likely to be seriously ill.
If you've had flu before, COVID, or neither, it's safe to have the flu vaccine. It'll be effective at helping to prevent flu.
As well as children, a flu vaccine is available for free on the NHS from your GP or a local pharmacy if you:
- are 65 and over (including those who'll be 65 by 31 March 2021)
- have certain health conditions (see notes to editors)
- are pregnant (you can also get it from your midwife)
- are in a long-stay residential care
- receive a carer's allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
- live with someone who's at high risk from coronavirus (on the NHS shielded patient list)
- frontline health or social care workers
You can find a participating local pharmacy here: https://www.londonflu.co.uk/
Sir Sam Everington, a local GP and chair of Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "It is vitally important that in this unprecedented year that parents of young children get them vaccinated for flu. It can be a very unpleasant illness for children and it can also lead to serious problems.
"Children spread it easily and vaccinating them also protects others who are vulnerable to flu.
"The flu is not the same as getting a cold. It can seriously affect your health and the risks of developing complications are greater for people within the 'at-risk' groups. The risks are also higher if you get flu and coronavirus at the same time."
Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs said: "This has been anything but an average year so it's even more important for those considered at risk to get their flu jab. Let's protect as many people as possible and ease the pressure on the NHS this winter.
"If you're considered at risk, contact your GP or pharmacist if you haven't heard from them."