Basildon and Brentwood Clinical Commissioning Group is reminding parents to act on the letter they should have received about their child’s free flu vaccination.
This year the annual flu campaign is being extended to include older children in school year three.
The free immunisation is being offered to youngsters aged two, three and four and pupils in school years 1, 2, 3 and 4. Children in years 5 and 6 are also being offered protection as Basildon and Brentwood was one of the former primary school pilot areas.
The move will help protect a larger number of children across south west Essex and help provide protection to schools, friends, family, and the wider population from the virus.
Dr Sooraj Natarajan, who is the clinical lead for paediatrics at Basildon and Brentwood CCG, said: “We know coughs and colds are already starting to spread which means flu season is right behind. Children aged two, three and four are more vulnerable and can be hit hard by flu. In addition, they spread infections easily. They’re not bothered about covering their mouth when they cough, sneeze, or keeping their hands clean. And if they’re around family members of friends that are over 65 or who have a health condition, they’re putting them at risk too.
“Flu spreads fast and places like schools are ideal environments for it to get a grip in the community, so it’s essential we make sure children are protected for the sake of their fellow pupils and those they are in contact with.”
The vaccination is given by squirting a single dose of nasal spray up each nostril and so there are no needles to worry about.
Dr Natarajan, who is GP Principal at the Tile House Surgery in Brentwood, said: “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 potentially those they come into contact with.
“So we’re asking that parents and carers pay attention to the letter they have received or will be receiving soon. We understand being a parent keeps people busy but this five minute job is really important for the health of your child and your loved ones. It really isn’t worth the risk so please get your child protected.”
Any parent who has not received a letter, should contact their child’s school or GP practice.
•Young people with long-term health conditions up to the age of 17 are also eligible to receive a free flu vaccination at their GP practice or local pharmacy.
Download the leaflet Protecting your child against flu – information for parents