About a third of pregnant women and young children in Nottingham booked in for a flu jab in 2015, sparking calls to increase the take-up in vaccinations this year.
Between September 2015 and January, 34.8% of expectant women – who are registered with a GP in the city – booked in for a jab, below the national average of 42.3% and the regional average of 41.4%.
Meanwhile, 33.2% of two to four year olds in the city registered for a vaccination, again below the national average of 34.4% and regional average of 40%.
The calls by Nottingham City Council come following the launch of the Stay Well This Winter campaign today (Wednesday 12 October) which is operated jointly by Public Health England and NHS England.
National health bosses have announced the vaccination programme is being extended to those in School year 3 – an overall increase of about 600,000.
An annual flu vaccine nasal spray will now be offered to children at age two, three and four – and to pupils in year 1 and year 2.
Flu on top of any long term health condition can easily develop into something very serious, and you could end up in hospital. You are eligible for the free flu jab if you have the following conditions:
COPD, bronchitis, emphysema or asthma
Have had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
Lowered immunity as a result of disease or medical treatment, such as steroid medication or cancer treatment
A neurological condition, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy, or a learning disability
A problem with your spleen, including sickle cell disease, or if you have had your spleen removed
Mother-of-two Sarah Quilty, who has asthma, had her flu jab last week and will be ensuring her six-year-old daughter, Phaedra, and four-year-old son, Balthazar – who both attend Willow Farm Primary School – get vaccinated.
Ms Quilty, of Gedling, said: “If my children get flu, they could miss a week of school, and a week at school is a lot of education as well as the social side that school brings.
“It concerns me because the information really isn’t out there, and it’s only now that the information’s being pushed nationally.
“Hopefully the campaign will increase awareness and more parents will take their children to get vaccinated.”
Flu can cause serious complications for a pregnant woman and her baby, while children are most likely to spread flu to others.
Professor Paul Cosford, director for health protection and medical director at Public Health England said, “I would encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated to help protect themselves and those around them.
“It is important to get vaccinated every year. Flu is unpredictable and previous years’ vaccinations may not protect you against the types of flu virus circulating this year.”