Torbay Council is supporting Public Health England and NHS England in their campaign to help people stay healthy.
The campaign kicks off with a national flu vaccination programme for children, which this year seeks to help over three million two to six year olds, as the programme is extended to children in school years one and two.
For the first time, all the youngest primary school children will be eligible to receive the free nasal spray vaccine, making this the largest school-based vaccination programme in England involving children in 17,000 schools.
As in previous years, the adult flu vaccine will also be offered for free to those in groups at particular risk of infection and complications from flu. The groups being offered the adult flu vaccine are:
• Pregnant women
• Those aged 65 or over
• Those aged under 65 with long-term conditions
Deputy Mayor and Executive Lead for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Derek Mills, said: “The vaccine is providing those most vulnerable in the community with a form of protection. The flu is prominent every year across the bay, and for many it is just unpleasant. However, the flu vaccine helps to protect the more susceptible of Torbay becoming incredibly ill.”
Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies said: “Let me be crystal clear – flu kills. For many people it is an unpleasant illness but for the most vulnerable in society – small children, the elderly, those with long-term health problems and for pregnant women – it is extremely dangerous and can be lethal.
“Getting the vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from catching flu and I would urge everyone who is offered the vaccine free on the NHS to get vaccinated.”
A pilot programme last year showed vaccinating children had dual benefit; as well as protecting them from flu, it also protects others, such as parents, grandparents and siblings, as children are ‘super spreaders’ and are much more likely to infect others.
Parents are encouraged to complete consent forms in order to allow immunisation teams to administer the nasal spray flu vaccine to their children. For those children in areas where the vaccination is not offered through schools, they will be offered the vaccination at their local GP or pharmacy.
Professor Paul Cosford, Director for Health Protection and Medical Director at Public Health England (PHE), said: “If you have children aged two, three or four, or in school years one and two, make sure you take up their free flu vaccination this season.
“GPs are offering the vaccine to children aged two to four years and, in the majority of areas in England, it will be offered to children in school years one and two. The nasal spray vaccination is quick, effective and painless, and remains the best way to help you and your family stay well this winter.”
All frontline NHS staff will once again be offered a free flu jab this season in order to protect themselves and patients from infection. Last year only 54% of staff were vaccinated. NHS leaders are today encouraging them to take up this offer as part of their duty to protect patients and keep them safe.
Those who work with vulnerable individuals, such as frontline health and social workers are being urged to have the vaccine.