11th November 2022
As winter quickly approaches, Rukeya Miah, Deputy Associate Director of Nursing, Senior Midwife and Professional Midwifery Advocate for the Bradford District & Craven Vaccination Programme, explains why it is so important to make sure young children get their flu vaccine this season.
With the days becoming shorter and the weather getting colder, we will all have realised that winter is just around the corner. As we start to spend more time indoors together, viruses like flu can spread more easily and, this winter, it is possible that more people will catch flu compared with last winter when COVID-19 restrictions were still in place. We have already seen flu cases rising quicker and earlier than usual this year, with hospital admissions for flu going up fastest in children aged under five. This makes it a vital time to ensure that young children are protected against flu.
Flu can be a horrible illness for young children and, if they get flu, they can spread the virus on to others that are more vulnerable and more likely to experience serious illness, such as their grandparents. Vaccinating young children helps protect them from getting flu and prevent it spreading amongst family and friends. The flu vaccine is free and is proven to be safe and effective. It is offered every year to those most at risk and those that are most likely to pass flu on to other people at risk.
In your role as a health visitor, we would encourage you to ask parents of young children if their child has been vaccinated against flu this season and encourage them to make a flu vaccine appointment with their GP surgery as soon as possible if they have not already.
Young children that are eligible for the free flu vaccine include:
- those aged 6 months and over that are in an at risk group
- those aged 2- or 3-years old on 31 August 2022 (born between 1 September 2018 and 31 August 2020)
- all primary school children
You can remind parents that children aged 2 and above will be given a nasal spray flu vaccine. This is a quick and easy spray up the nose that is over in a second. Children aged under 2 will be given the flu vaccine injection instead of the nasal spray.
The best time to get vaccinated is ahead of winter when flu starts spreading. In your conversations, it is worth reminding parents that their child needs to get the flu vaccine every year in order to be protected as the viruses that cause flu change every year.
Whilst you are on the topic of vaccinations, it may be a good opportunity to remind parents about the other routine vaccinations their child is entitled to to help protect them against preventable diseases like measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), tuberculosis, diphtheria, tetanus and polio, and encourage them to catch up if they are not up to date.
Rukeya Miah, Deputy Associate Director of Nursing, Senior Midwife and Professional Midwifery Advocate for the Bradford District & Craven Vaccination Programme
iHV Respiratory Illness resources
The iHV received funding from the NHS VCSE Health and Wellbeing fund to collate and develop a range of resources to support health visitors to raise parental awareness of respiratory illness in children and babies under three years old.
This webpage includes a range of these materials and resources to support and inform health visitors in their work when supporting families to access evidence-based information about respiratory illnesses.