St Helens parents are being urged to vaccinate their children against flu as we approach the winter months.
The town hall’s public health team is encouraging parents and carers as the largest ever programme to promote vaccination gets underway.
The national Stay Well This Winter campaign launched earlier this week and this year more than 542,000 children aged two to seven years in the North West will be offered protection to reduce the spread of the infection.
Building on the success of last year, children aged two, three and four can get a free nasal spray vaccination from their GP.
The school vaccination programme gets underway later this week, with children in years one, two and three being offered the free nasal spray vaccination.
St Helens mum Joanne Taylor, who is backing the campaign, is calling on other parents and carers to do the same.
Joanne said: “I think it’s a great idea for youngsters to get vaccinated against flu and that it will be offered through a nasal spray, rather than an injection.
“I have three children, Logan, 3, Paige, 5, and Emily, 7, who will be protected against flu this year.
“I would definitely encourage other parents to get their children vaccinated as children can spread infections so easily. It’s free and is the best way to protect your children against flu.”
The campaign is also encouraging pregnant women to get vaccinated against flu. Pregnancy naturally weakens the body’s immune system, and so flu can cause serious complications for mother and her unborn baby
The free vaccine is offered to other groups at particular risk of infection and complications, or liable to spread it to those at risk: anyone aged 65 and over, those with long term health conditions, residents of long-stay care homes and carers. Those eligible should contact their GP, pharmacist or midwife, as appropriate, for more information.
St Helens Council’s cabinet member for public health and wellbeing, Coun Jeanie Bell said: “Children are most likely to spread flu to others, so targeting them helps protect the wider community too.
“Reducing transmission by children can potentially help cut the number of GP appointments and unplanned admissions for children and adults, reducing winter pressures on the NHS.
“The most effective way to help protect your child and the rest of the family is to get them vaccinated.”
Sue Forster, St Helens Council’s Interim Director of Public Health, added: “I would also urge everyone who is eligible for the vaccine such as pregnant women, those aged over 65 and people with long term health conditions, who are at much greater risk of becoming seriously unwell if they catch flu, to get themselves protected.
“It is free because people in at risk groups need it. The sooner they have the jab the better.”
For more information, visit www.nhs.uk/flu