Chil­dren fall be­hind in flu vac­cines

Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - Yourviews -

RATES of chil­dren’s flu vac­cine up­take in Hal­ton were lower than av­er­age for Eng­land, with just over a third of el­i­gi­ble young­sters re­ceiv­ing the pre­ven­ta­tive treat­ment.

Fig­ures pub­lished by Pub­lic Health Eng­land showed that vac­ci­na­tion was low­est among six­seven year olds – at 33.6%, – fol­lowed by 36.9% in the seven to eight-year-old range and 37.3% for those aged be­tween five and six years.

In to­tal, 4,562 chil­dren were el­i­gi­ble dur­ing the Septem­ber- Novem­ber pe­riod.

Av­er­age vac­ci­na­tion rates for Eng­land were 44.4% for five to six-yearolds, 42.4% for six to seven, and 40.5% for seven to eight.

The NHS of­fers an an­nual flu vac­cine to chil­dren in the form of a nasal spray, but those who can­not have the spray be­cause of al­lergy, se­verely weak­ened im­mune sys­tem or asthma might be able to have a jab in­stead.

Vac­ci­na­tions were car- ried out in schools, phar­ma­cies and GP surg­eries.

In 2016-17, el­i­gi­ble groups were: chil­dren who were aged two, three and four on Au­gust 31, 2016; chil­dren in school years one, two and three; in some parts of the coun­try all pri­mary-schoolaged chil­dren will be of­fered the vac­cine as part of a test pro­gramme; and chil­dren aged two to 17 with long-term health con­di­tions.

Pub­lic Health Eng­land’s fig­ures were pro­vi­sional and could be amended when they are re­vised.

NHS ad­vice has said that flu causes the same symp­toms in chil­dren as for adults and can lead to hos­pi­tal treat­ment and very oc­ca­sion­ally a child may die.

The con­di­tion can be more dan­ger­ous for high risk groups such as those with long-term health con­di­tions.

Vac­cines con­tain a weak­ened form of the flu virus that builds im­mu­nity with­out in­fec­tion.

Most chil­dren only re­quire a sin­gle dose. ●

Flu vac­ci­na­tion is now of­fered to chil­dren and other vul­ner­a­ble groups

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