Public Health England (PHE) is encouraging parents and carers to help protect the three million eligible children from flu this winter.
This year, the vaccine, administered in the form of a nasal spray, is being offered to 2-3 year olds, those in school years, 1, 2, 3 and for the first time, children in year 4. Children aged over 4 in reception will also be eligible to have their vaccine done in school this year.
New data published in August of this year showed that last year's flu vaccine nasal spray reduced the risk of flu in vaccinated children by 65% across the UK last winter, meaning 65 children in every 100 were protected from flu.
Flu can be very serious illness for little children. They have the same symptoms as adults - including fever, chills, aching muscles, headaches and a sore throat. Some children also develop a very high fever and complications such as pneumonia and bronchitis which may require treatment in hospital.
Dr Paul Cosford, Medical Director for Public Health England, said:
"Young children's bodies can find it hard to cope with flu, so it is especially important to protect them with the vaccine. The nasal spray is a quick, effective and painless alternative to needles. Once ill, children also tend to spread infection more to other vulnerable family members, such as grandparents, so protecting them is a good way to protect the rest of the family.
"Getting the vaccine is the best way to help protect against catching flu. So I urge all parents whose children are eligible for the free nasal spray not to put it off. It's free because your family needs it."
Whilst seasonal flu can be an unpredictable virus, the vaccine is the best form of protection against flu. Vaccinating those who are most likely to suffer the worst from flu also offers a protective effect for the rest of the population by reducing the overall spread of the virus.
The free flu vaccine is also available for pregnant women. Research shows that under half (48%) of pregnant women got their jab last year. Pregnancy naturally weakens the body's immune system, and as a result it can cause serious complications for both mother and her unborn baby.
Mandira Bhimjiyani had the flu jab whilst pregnant, said:
"When you're having a baby, there are so many things to think about and prepare for, however making the decision to have the flu jab to protect my baby was an easy decision and one less thing for me to worry about.
The vaccine protected me and my unborn child so I could focus on enjoying being a new mum. I would recommend the flu jab to other mums as not only is it free but it also quick and safe."
Flu can be particularly dangerous for people with long-term health conditions. These include: chronic respiratory disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchitis or emphysema; heart, kidney or liver disease; chronic neurological diseases like multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy; and diabetes. Vaccinating children, who are super-spreaders of the virus, can offer indirect protection to other, more vulnerable family members.
Nimisha Lakhani, a mother of three and has a long-term health condition, said:
"I have severe asthma and getting the flu is really debilitating for me, I'm laid up in bed unable to move for at least a week so I make sure every year all my family get the flu jab including my children otherwise my condition would be worse."
Those who are eligible for a free flu vaccine should contact their GP, pharmacist or midwife now, for more information. Parents of children in reception and school years 1, 2, 3 and 4 are encouraged to give permission for their children to receive the free nasal spray vaccination.
Why is this important?
Panjabi is the third most spoken language in the United Kingdom. Millions of Panjabis of the world, including a large number living in the UK, can read Panjabi (Gurmukhi script). Panjabis constitute one of the successful communities in every field in the UK and worldwide, yet they do not have access to reliable and trustworthy source of information on current affairs and world news in their own language. Digital information is integral part of modern life. In modern days Panjabi community has become more aware of this digital transformation. But their language Panjabi is no on the BBC !!
Increasing number of young Panjabi audiences are
also keen learners of the Panjabi (Gurmukhi) language, each year taking A
Levels courses in large numbers, run by AQA. Availability on online
content in Panjabi will be significantly helpful for them to improve
their language as well communication skills to serve the community
better and a better Great Britain.
There's no doubt that BBC has one of the largest news gathering operations in the world, with more journalists, in more countries than any other international broadcaster. It has its reputable presence in South Asia in terms of extensive coverage of social, economical and political news across the region including state of Panjab, in India. All Panjabis would love to stay in touch with rapidly changing world and will have access to daily updates in their own language.
UK Panjabi community, as well as across the globe, would love to have Panjabi (Gurmukhi) made available on BBC website along with other 15 South Asian languages including Hindi, Bengali, Nepalese, Burmese and Pashto.