The biggest ever flu vaccination programme in England has been launched today meaning more people in Essex will be protected.
According to Public Health England, it is estimated that several million people get flu each winter, leading to more than 2,000 NHS intensive care admissions across the UK last year.
The programme, launched by Public Health England (PHE) and NHS England, will help protect millions of people most at risk including children, the elderly and those with long term health conditions.
This year the programme has changed and it is now being extended to those in school year 3, offering more than 4 million children in England protection against flu which is around 600,000 more than last year.
As of May 2016 there were 16,573 pupils in year 3 in Essex schools (Including Academies, excluding independent schools and those in Southend and Thurrock), meaning a considerable increase in the amount of pupils in Essex schools who will now be offered the vaccination, who would not have been offered it before .
Leader of the Council, Cllr David Finch said: “It is great news that more children in Essex are now being offered the flu vaccination, meaning that even more people in the county will be protected.
As well as young children, the vaccination is also available to other groups at particular risk of infection and complications such as pregnant women, anyone aged 65 and over, and residents of long-stay care homes and carers. If you fit in any of these categories then contact your GP, pharmacist or midwife to arrange your vaccination.”
Mike Gogarty, Director of Public Health at Essex County Council said: “Many people don’t realise they are in a priority group, so please think about whether you qualify and if you are eligible for the free vaccination and have not had it, please get it booked in now.
Flu can be serious to not only your own health, but also to others, so for the sake of a quick appointment, it is most definitely worth it.
Children are most likely to spread flu to others, so with this increase in the number of children in the county being offered the vaccination, it is helping to protect the wider community too.”
Children aged 2, 3 and 4 can now get the vaccination from their GP. The school vaccination programme gets underway later this week, with parents of children in years 1, 2 and 3 being asked permission for their child to get the free nasal spray vaccination at school.
This launch of this programme is part of PHE and NHS England’s Stay Well This winter Campaign (SWTW) which has started today. Essex County Council will be launching its own winter campaign at the end of this month.
For more information on the national SWTW campaign and the flu vaccination please visit: http://www.nhs.uk/staywell/