Call to vaccinate Brighton and Hove children against flu as number of hospital cases revealed

Child vaccination rates will need to increase to fend of flu this season
Child vaccination rates will need to increase to fend of flu this season

Twelve under-18s ended up in hospital in Brighton and Hove last year due to flu, according to Brighton and Hove NHS.

Sixty per cent of two and three-year-olds in Brighton and Hove were not vaccinated against flu in 2018 putting their health, and the health of their families, at risk, the NHS said.

This was despite availability of the free and painless NHS nasal spray flu vaccine available to all children aged between two and ten on August 31, 2019.

Allison Cannon, chief nurse officer for East Surrey and Sussex clinical commissioning groups, said young children must be ‘vaccinated now’ to protect them from the virus.

She said: “We know children tend to be ‘super-spreaders’ of flu and so protecting them is crucial for protecting the rest of the population.”

Allison added that vaccination was ‘the best defence’ against flu, which is an ‘unpredictable virus’.

Children who needed medical care for flu cost the NHS more than £42,000 last year, putting extra strain on local hospitals at a busy period.

Flu can be very unpleasant for children, causing fever, stuffy nose, dry cough, sore throat, extreme tiredness, and aching muscles and joints.

Symptoms last for several days and may force parents and carers to take time off work to care for sick children.

Complications can be serious, from ear infection, to acute bronchitis and pneumonia.

Local doctors believe this could all be avoided by taking up the free vaccine for children.

Health officials emphasise the importance of vaccinating children even if they had a flu vaccine last year. They urge parents to seek out vaccination consent forms this school term.

The vaccine is also freely available to certain clinical risk groups aged under six months and under 65 years old.

Find out more about the children’s flu vaccine at www.nhs.uk