All seven year olds now included in flu vaccination programme
Health officials in Wales are urging parents of 2-7 year olds to get their children vaccinated against influenza (flu) this winter, to protect them from catching and spreading this potentially serious, highly contagious illness. This year, the programme is being extended to 7 year olds to help protect even more children from flu.
Flu can affect children severely. In recent years, in Wales, children and adults have been admitted to hospital and intensive care units with flu.
The flu immunisation programme offers a simple nasal spray vaccine for children aged 2-7 to help protect them from catching flu or spreading it to the people around them. It is most effective if given before flu starts to circulate.
This year, Cwm Taf University Health Board is piloting a vaccination programme for nursery class children, aged 3, in local authority schools. Those 3 year olds who are not in school will be vaccinated at their GP surgery, as will children aged two years old.
Children in reception class and school years one, two and three, will also receive the vaccine by the school nursing service at their school.
The nurses will require consent from parents before administering the vaccine to any child.
Gareth Jones, the health board’s immunisation co-ordinator for school nursing said: “The team started the school flu programme on October 3rd and will have visited all schools in Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil by December 12th, 2016. (Click Here for Schools Timetable)
“We will have provided an opportunity for over 19000 children in 130 schools to receive the nasal flu vaccine in a friendly environment and one they are comfortable with.
“The challenge is great but as an experienced team it is something we embrace year upon year.”
Young children are particularly at risk of serious complications of flu for a number of reasons. Not least, their immune systems are not yet fully developed so they can’t fight off the flu as well as older children and adults.
Flu is easily spread within families and also, because of the nature of nurseries, playgroups and the school environment, toddlers and children are often in very close proximity to each other where they are especially susceptible to any circulating germs. Vaccination can help to stop the spread by protecting individuals and creating ‘herd’ immunity.”
For most healthy children, influenza (or ‘flu’) can mean several miserable days at home in bed, but parents should be aware that flu can sometimes result in serious complications, especially for very young children and those with long term health problems, such as moderate or severe asthma, for whom it can even be life threatening.