With flu rates jumping by 80 per cent in just one week, the local NHS is urging parents and carers to ensure their child is protected from the common virus with the free flu vaccine.
The advice comes after flu cases rose by just over 88 per cent over the last week in Brighton and Hove, from around 8 cases per 100,000 almost doubling to over 15 presenting with influenza like illness.
Last winter, there was a steady rise in flu cases from early in the New Year, which meant thousands of two and three year olds in Brighton and Hove were at risk of becoming seriously ill after 60 per cent of this age group missed out on the free nasal spray flu vaccine.
12 under 18 year olds even ended up in hospital in Brighton and Hove last flu season due to the illness, and local doctors believe this could have been avoided had those eligible taken up the opportunity to get their free vaccine.
Flu can be a very unpleasant illness in children causing fever, stuffy nose dry cough, sore throat, aching muscles and joints and extreme tiredness, which can often last several days and requires parents and carers to take time off work to care for them.
Some children can get a very high fever, sometimes without the usual flu symptoms, and may need to go to hospital for treatment. Serious complications of flu include a painful ear infection, acute bronchitis and pneumonia.
Dr Andrew Hodson, Clinical Chair for NHS Brighton and Hove CCG, said: "We're urging parents to take up the offer of vaccination for their children as it’s the best defence we have against this unpredictable virus.
“It is important we protect young children from the flu and we know children tend to be 'super-spreaders' of flu, so protecting them is crucial for protecting the rest of the family. The nasal spray is safe and tailored each year to specific flu viruses – so please claim this free NHS offer.”
It is important to get children vaccinated even if they had the flu vaccination last year. This year, the vaccine will be available free on the NHS for eligible children, including:
- All children aged two to ten (but not eleven years or older) on 31 August 2019
- Those aged six months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups
Find out more about the children's flu vaccine speak with a local GP or visit www.nhs.uk