Doctors in Richmond are urging parents to vaccinate their toddlers against the flu this winter, after figures revealed that only 39.05% of 2-3 year olds in the borough received the free flu vaccination last year – a figure below national average of 43.5%. Officials warn that little children are some of the worst affected by the virus and, if they get it, they’re likely to infect other members of the family too making them ‘super spreaders’.
Highly contagious, flu causes suffering and often serious illness to thousands in Richmond every winter. With symptoms for poorly toddlers including fever, chills, aching muscles, headache, a stuffy nose, dry cough or sore throat. Children are at even greater risk than adults of contracting the virus and unfortunately, some children also go on to develop a very high fever or complications such as bronchitis or pneumonia, and may require hospital treatment to feel better.
Dr Graham Lewis, GP and Chair Richmond Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Every child between the ages of 2-10 is eligible for the free vaccination. It’s never been so readily available, yet most parents in Richmond are still not heeding professional advice to protect their children. As a result, they are at risk of illness and putting their family members at risk of contracting flu.
“To tackle the spread of flu throughout the borough this winter, it’s so important that parents get their children vaccinated. Those aged between 2-3 years old can be taken to their GP where, in most cases, they’ll be able to receive a quick, free and painless nasal spray. And for school-age children, the vaccine is usually provided free of charge in schools.”
Cllr Piers Allen, Richmond Council Chair for Health and Wellbeing Board, said:
“It’s a really good idea for parents to get their children vaccinated against the flu.
“We want to ensure that Richmond upon Thames is healthy with strong communities where everyone plays their part and takes sensible precautions against sickness and this is a simple way to potentially save lives and help us stop the spread of a nasty condition.
“No one wants their child to be poorly and if they do get the flu you may have to take time off work to care for them or arrange alternative childcare.
“The vaccine really is the best way to protect your families from a really nasty health condition and also help prevent the spread of the flu to other vulnerable people in the community such as their grandparents.”
Pregnant women, those with an underlying long-term health condition (adults and children) and those aged 65 and over are also likely to suffer more than most if they contract flu, which is why the NHS is also offering free vaccinations to these groups of people too.
Adults may obtain the flu vaccine either from their GP or local community pharmacist. To find your nearest pharmacy visit https://beta.nhs.uk/find-a-pharmacy/
To learn more about the flu vaccine and who should have it visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine/