With nursery and school terms well underway, local parents and guardians of children aged two and three are being encouraged not to put off getting the free flu vaccination for their youngsters.
This year, children aged 2 and 3 years, or in school years R to five are all eligible for the flu vaccination on the NHS.
The child-friendly nasal spray, delivers a simple squirt into each nostril, making administration quick and easy.
Across the South West, children aged two and three years old can visit their GP for the nasal spray vaccination; while school nurses are running clinics for children in years Reception, one, two, three, four and five.
Children of all ages with a health condition that puts them at greater risk of flu are also eligible for the flu vaccine.
Flu can be a very unpleasant illness in children causing fever, stuffy nose, dry cough, sore throat, aching muscles and joints, and extreme tiredness. This can often last several days.
Some children can get a very high fever, sometimes without the usual flu symptoms, and may need to go to hospital for treatment. Serious complications of flu include a painful ear infection, acute bronchitis, and pneumonia.
Liz Mearns, NHS England Medical Director South West said: “It is important we protect young children from the flu virus in time for winter and get them vaccinated now.
“Children can become very poorly if they catch flu impacting on the wider family, as parents/carers may have to take time off work to look after them.
“The nasal spray contains viruses that have been weakened to prevent them from causing flu but will help children to build up immunity.
“Protecting your child can stop flu spreading to other children and the family, especially babies and grandparents, who may be at higher risk from flu.”
It’s important to get children vaccinated even if they had the flu vaccination last year.
The flu vaccine provides protection against the strains of flu that are likely to circulate this year and which may be different from last year.
Make sure you visit your GP when offered the nasal spray vaccine, for pre-school children, or complete the consent form so your child can have vaccine at school, if in school years R to 5.