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Should my child have the flu vaccine?

Last Updated on : 27th November 2020

Everyone might be talking about the covid vaccines right now, but with winter just around the corner, there’s also the small matter of flu.

The flu season is pretty much upon us, so if you haven’t had your little one vaccinated against flu, now’s the time to give your Wandsworth GP a call.

The vaccine is free for two and three-year-olds. It’s given as a nasal spray – so no needles. Plus, it’s the best protection against catching, what can be, a really severe illness.

For local mum, Sarah the decision to have her daughter Mary vaccinated was a bit of a no-brainer. “I’m having Mary vaccinated against the flu because flu can be so serious,” she said. “Now we have this vaccination programme, with a vaccine that’s safe and free and simple, I’m first in line to have Mary vaccinated.”

It’s just the flu

Take-up of the flu vaccine has been really high this year among all of Wandsworth’s at-risk groups, but we know that not everyone is convinced. Some people believe that flu is just a bad cold, and that young children don’t tend to suffer that much.

“It’s not true” says Dr Richard Chavasse, consultant in children’s respiratory medicine at St George’s Hospital, Tooting.“Up to 10% of children may present with ‘flu’ in any year. Although many have a relatively mild infection, I have seen children requiring full life-support because of influenza and sadly, albeit rare, some who have died, despite everyone’s best care.”

Plus, little children are often regarded as super spreaders. Says Dr Chavasse: “Unlike Covid-19, we also know that young children are great spreaders of flu. Reducing infections in this age group helps to reduce spread across the wider population.”

Be careful who you listen to

Being a parent of young children can be tough. There’s so much advice out there, it’s difficult to know what to believe – and you’ll find plenty of “experts” on social media with something to say about vaccines.

Says Sarah: “If you’re worried about the vaccination, I’d ask you ‘why?’. If it’s because of something you’ve read on social media, I’d say be careful. We live in an age of false truths – speak to someone who knows, and cares, about your child, like a GP.”

According to Dr Chavasse, “Many millions of doses have been given and the safety profile is very good. As with any vaccine you may get a few mild symptoms, but you cannot catch flu from it.”

And if you’re pregnant …

If you’re expecting, it’s important you get the flu vaccination too. Catching the disease while pregnant puts you at risk of complications, so the vaccine is one thing that really can keep you and your baby safe. You can have the vaccine at any time during your pregnancy – speak to your midwife or GP for advice.

 

The NHS is here for you

If you’re concerned about taking a child along to your local surgery – or wondering if it’s even open – don’t be. The NHS is keen to reassure patients that GP practices are very much here for you, with the necessary measures in place keep people safe – watch this video to find out more.

Contact your GP today to book a flu jab for your child. Visit our NHS Wandsworth flu site or the NHS Website to find out more.

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