Thousands of children in East Sussex are still being left unprotected against flu this year, exposing them to the risk of them becoming seriously ill from catching the virus and  infecting their wider family.

Flu symptoms come on very quickly and can be a very unpleasant illness in children with symptoms like fever, stuffy nose, dry cough, sore throat, aching and extreme tiredness, which can often last several days.

Children can face serious complications from flu virus, including a painful ear infection, acute bronchitis and pneumonia, so some may even need hospital for treatment.

With flu season set to start this month, more than 44% of 2-3 year olds unprotected in East Sussex are still unprotected from the risk of severe illness if they catch the flu.

Every child aged two to three is eligible and can receive the vaccine at their GP practice. Children in Reception to Year 7 will receive the vaccination at school.

Children of all ages with a health condition that puts them at greater risk of flu are also eligible for the flu vaccine.

Protecting children can also stop the flu virus spreading to other children and the family, especially babies and grandparents, who may be at higher risk from flu and who may be trying their best to stay well at this current time.

Allison Cannon, Chief Nurse Officer for Sussex NHS commissioners said, “We are urging parents to protect their children now from getting very ill from flu with the free flu vaccine from the NHS.

“The nasal spray vaccination is quick, effective and painless and robust safety rules are being followed wherever and whenever vaccinations take place whether that is at your GP practice or at your child’s school to make sure these are being done safely to every child, parents and staff.

Parents of two to three year olds who have not been vaccinated can speak to their GP practice about the arrangements this year and please attend a clinic appointment. Those with children in school years Reception to Year 7 are asked to make sure you sign their consent form receive this through school so their children can have the flu vaccine.

The nasal spray vaccine contains pork gelatine and if this is not suitable parents are asked to speak with their child’s nurse or doctor about options, as alternatives are available which do not contain pork gelatine.