More Gwent children to be offered flu vaccine
5:47pm Monday 14th October 2013 in News
SOME pre-school and all Year 7 children in Gwent will be offered a free flu vaccination this autumn, part of a new national drive to protect more people from the illness, and minimise its spread.
Parents of two and three-year-olds will be invited to take their children to their GP surgery, while 11- and 12-year-olds will be offered free vaccinations in school.
These children will qualify for the free vaccine each year, joining people aged over 64 and those with certain underlying medical conditions deemed at most risk of complications from flu.
Over the next few years more age groups will be included, until all children aged between two and 16 will be offered a free annual flu vaccination, which for most can be given as a nasal spray. The introduction of a nasal spray flu vaccine for children and young people is new in Wales, but millions of doses have been given around the world over the last 10 years, particularly the USA.
Vaccinating healthy children against flu is considered to give direct protection to those vaccinated, and further indirect protection to others by reducing the level of circulating virus.
Health boards are also urging people in ‘at risk’ groups to have a flu vaccination. These also include pregnant women, anyone aged more than six months who have chronic lung, heart, kidney, liver or nervous system disease, people with diabetes, and those with weakened immune systems.
“Last winter, a third of those aged 65 years or more, and half of those aged six months to 64 years, in ‘at risk’ groups in the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board area were not vaccinated and were therefore not protected against flu, a vaccine preventable disease,” said Dr Gill Richardson, the board’s director of public health.
“I would encourage anyone entitled to a free flu vaccination to contact their GP and arrange an appointment while flu is still circulating at a low level. Flu can make you extremely unwell and in some vulnerable individuals can be a fatal illness.”
Anyone aged more than 64 or in an ‘at risk’ group who has difficulty getting to their GP should contact their nearest pharmacy which may offer an evening or weekend appointment. Many pharmacies offer flu vaccinations, usually at less than £10 per vaccine, for those not entitled to a free vaccination but who wish to protect themselves.
For flu information, visit www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/888/page/43745
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