Public Health England (PHE) and NHS England are urging people to get vaccinated against flu, which can be a serious and fatal illness.
Two and three-year-olds, those aged 65 and over, children and adults with underlying medical conditions and pregnant women should get their free vaccine in the next few weeks before flu begins to circulate widely, PHE has warned.
Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:
‘Influenza can be a very unpleasant illness, and while it is not generally a serious illness for most people, for those in at-risk groups, such as young children, elderly people, those with long-term conditions and pregnant women, flu has the potential to trigger life-threatening complications.
‘The best defence against the flu is to be vaccinated and we strongly urge all patients in at-risk groups to get vaccinated and for parents to ensure their young children receive their vaccine as soon as possible.’
A spokesman for PHE said the primary schools-based flu vaccination programme is once again underway following a temporary pause in the ordering of the nasal vaccine, caused by delays from the manufacturer, AstraZeneca, which had to repeat some tests that did not run correctly before a portion of the vaccine could be released.
The spokesman said the issue was not due to safety or the efficacy of the vaccine itself, which has passed all the other tests and that no other batches of the vaccine, including those already in use by schools and GPs, had been affected.
Primary school clinics will be rescheduled as soon as possible and children in high-risk groups should visit their GP if their school session has been delayed, to ensure that they are protected early. GPs have now been advised to call in all eligible children for vaccination by early December.
A spokesman for PHE said it is important that children are vaccinated as they tend to be ‘super-spreaders’ of flu so if they get it, they are likely to infect more vulnerable older family members.
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