Wednesday, October 30, 2013.
The Chief Medical Officer, Public Health England (PHE) and
NHS England are urging people who are offered the flu vaccine, including those
who are most at risk, and all two and three year olds (as of September 1 2013)
to protect themselves from flu this winter by ensuring they get vaccinated
against the virus.
For the first time, a nasal spray vaccine will be offered to healthy two
and three year old children. This marks the first step in an extension to the national flu vaccination
programme, which will eventually include yearly vaccination of all 2-16 year
A new study
published by PHE and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, found
children are key “spreaders” of the flu virus. Young children aged two and
three will be offered the nasal spray vaccine to protect them against flu, as
their close contact with each other means they are more likely to transmit the
virus to other more vulnerable groups – including infants and older people.
advertising campaign is also being launched today by PHE to encourage parents
of two to three year old children, as well as people aged 65 and over, adults
and children with long term health conditions and pregnant women, to take up
the offer of vaccination.
people were admitted to intensive care with complications of flu last year and
each winter hundreds of thousands of people see their GP and tens of thousands
are hospitalised because of flu.
Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies says severe winter flu and its
complications can make people really ill and can kill. She warns that you are
eleven times more likely to die from flu if you are in a clinical at risk
She said: “I
urge everyone who is eligible to get the vaccine and help protect themselves and
their families this winter. This year we are offering healthy two and three
year olds a nasal spray vaccine to not only protect healthy children from flu,
but to help to reduce the spread of flu and protect others, including younger
brothers and sisters, grandparents and those who are at increased risk of
becoming seriously ill from flu.”
Government’s independent vaccine experts (Joint Committee on Vaccination and
Immunisation) advise that it wouldn’t be effective for the NHS to vaccinate
every healthy person against flu. However people can still pay for the flu
vaccine at their local pharmacy.
Dr Paul Cosford, Medical Director and Director for Health
Protection at PHE points out that for
the majority of people, flu is an unpleasant, but not life-threatening illness.
“But it can be very serious
for older people and those groups at risk of developing complications,” he
said. “These include people with
weakened immune systems, as well as those with underlying conditions such as
neurological disorders, liver, lung or renal disease, heart problems or
diabetes, and pregnant women. Vaccination remains the best way to protect
against the potential serious harm from flu this winter.”
publish a weekly flu report until May 2014, which will detail the flu viruses
that are circulating together with information on the levels of influenza
illness in the population.
Dr David Geddes, Head of Primary
Care Commissioning at NHS England, said: “Flu is a nasty illness which can
spread easily. This extension to the vaccination programme for children will
not only protect more children, it will have a wider health impact in terms of
protecting other people who they come into contact with.”
For information on how to get
your child vaccinated, contact your local GP surgery. For further information
about flu vaccination, including who should have it please visit http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/pages/who-should-have-flu-vaccine.aspx