Parents of children aged two to four in Central Bedfordshire are urged to ensure that their little ones are protected against flu this winter with a free nasal spray vaccine.
Last year there were more than 1,500 hospital admissions related to flu in Bedfordshire, and as many as 278 people across the county died from flu-related illness.
With young children considered ‘super spreaders’, as they come into contact with so many people – from nursery to their grandparents – parents are urged to get them vaccinated, with a free nasal vaccine spray available for all two to four year-olds.
Other groups of people, including pregnant women, pensioners and those with long-term health issues such as diabetes, heart disease or chronic respiratory conditions are also urged to get their free flu vaccination.
Pregnancy weakens the immune system and contracting flu during this period can affect the growth of the foetus and lead to a preterm or still birth. Receiving the flu vaccine during pregnancy will also protect the baby in the first few months after birth.
Bedfordshire GP Dr Fran Ross said: “By ensuring young children have received a flu vaccine, parents aren’t just protecting their children; they are also protecting older relatives. This is especially important as we approach the festive season when families gather together to celebrate.
“The vaccine has been thoroughly tested and is safe and effective. Side effects are rare and minor compared to the risks associated with flu.”
Cllr Carole Hegley, Central Bedfordshire Council Executive Member for Social Care, Health and Housing, said: “Flu can be very uncomfortable for children and can even lead to a stay in hospital. If they are unable to go to nursery, this could mean parents having to take time off work to nurse them.
“With Christmas around the corner, it is in the best interest of the whole family to make sure that every eligible person receives their free vaccine so that this preventable illness does not interfere with what should be a joyful time for everyone.”
At-risk groups should have a vaccination every winter as the virus is constantly changing. If you are unsure whether you qualify for a free vaccination, contact your GP. For more information on protecting yourself against flu visit www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/flu-jab