Flu vaccinations for children launched ahead of winter
Monday 24, November
As part of an annual campaign to protect children from the flu this winter, four year olds are now eligible for free vaccinations for the first time in the UK. The operation comes as Public Health England aims to protect vulnerable people from catching the illness, including pregnant women, over 65s, young children and individuals with long term medical conditions.
Last winter, 904 people were taken to hospital with cases of the flu, with 98 people losing their lives. While the illness itself is not usually regarded as fatal, for people in ‘high risk’ groups, it can lead to life-threatening health conditions, such as pneumonia.
Health officials have noted there have been fewer cases of flu in recent years, which has caused some concern that people will fail to protect themselves and their families.
Vaccines for children
This year, four year olds have been included in the national rollout of flu jabs as part of a long term plan to make all children aged between two to 16 eligible for the free vaccination. Children aged between two to four will be given a nasal spray rather than an injection.
As part of the operation to vaccinate 19 million UK citizens, it has been reported that approximately two million children will be offered the flu jab this year. It is thought that the programme will help to reduce large outbreaks in schools and nurseries, and in turn, help to protect individuals who are at greater risk of developing serious illnesses as a result of a bout of the flu.
Other preventative measures
The annual scheme highlights the need for people to safeguard themselves from the viruses that cause the flu. For those who do not fall under ‘high risk’ categories, there are certain precautions that can be taken to stop infectious germs from spreading.
Regularly washing hands and surfaces with alcohol-based hand gels and disinfectants, for example, can prevent a whole host of problems, including flu, diarrhoea and vomiting, food poisoning, norovirus and MRSA.
It is also advisable to use tissues to cover your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze and make sure that used tissues are disposed of properly to prevent the spread of infection.