Call to vaccinate children against ‘flu amid ‘super spreaders’ warning

Public Health England data shows 24% rise in doctor’s appointments for ‘flu

This is an edited version of an article first published by The Guardian.

Vital NHS services are being flooded with ‘flu patients this winter; in response, senior doctors have urged parents to vaccinate their children – ‘super-spreaders’ of ‘flu. Medical professionals have said jabs are the best defence against the highly infectious disease which has hit the UK earlier than usual this year. More people over the age of 65 have been vaccinated this year, compared with 2018, but fewer than a third of two and three-year-olds have had their jab.

According to the latest data from Public Health England (PHE), the number of patients booking doctor’s appointments as a result of ‘flu-like symptoms has increased by 24% in the last week.

NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis urged the 25 million Britons eligible for the free vaccination to ‘Get your jab now!’

”We know that children are ‘super spreaders’ of ‘flu, particularly around the holiday season when they’re more likely to see elderly relatives,” Professor Powis said, “so our message is simple; the ‘flu season is here, get your jab now; it might be the difference between a Christmas to remember, and one to forget.”

Catch It, Bin It, Kill It

This winter, PHE refreshed its Catch It, Bin It, Kill It campaign aiming to prevent the spread of ‘flu with hygiene advice. PHE medical director Professor Yvonne Doyle also urged parents with children aged two and three to get them vaccinated as soon as possible.

“The health service in England has prepared for its largest ever ‘flu protection drive to help keep people well and ease pressure on urgent care services over the colder months,” she said.

The chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said increasing numbers of people catching the infection puts pressure on hospital services, particularly as the disease worsens health conditions common among older people. “The winter ‘flu season has started early in the UK and it is important that everyone who is eligible gets the ‘flu jab from their GP or pharmacist,” he said.

“For older people, and those with underlying health conditions, getting ‘flu is particularly bad news because it can lead to really serious conditions like pneumonia and bronchitis, which can mean a lengthy stay in hospital.

“The vaccine is the best defence against ‘flu whilst practising sensible hygiene can reduce the spread of ‘flu.”

People aged over 65, young children, pregnant women and those who have underlying medical conditions are particularly encouraged to book their ‘flu jabs or get a nasal spray from a pharmacy.

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