THE parents of thousands of children in Sussex are being urged to get their child protected against flu this year, reducing the risk of them becoming seriously ill and infecting their wider family.

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.

This year is unique, as schools return after their closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and it is recognised that there are concerns from parents about seasonal colds, alongside flu and the Covid-19 cases in the community.

There have been national headlines about access to GP practices, but the NHS in Sussex wants to reassure people that GP practices are open and are providing face to face appointments for those who clinically need them – including to provide flu vaccination clinics.

In addition, as schools have returned guidance has been issued with schools about when children should stay home and when isolation and testing is required, and this should have been shared with parents and carers.

Alongside this protection advice in relation to Covid-19, it is important that children who are eligible for the free flu vaccination are protected this year.

Flu symptoms come on very quickly and can be a very unpleasant illness in children with symptoms including fever, stuffy nose, dry cough, sore throat, aching muscles and joints 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.

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.

The flu vaccination is the safest way to help protect against the influenza virus, and is particularly important for those who are at increased risk of flu, such as children.

Robust safety rules designed and implemented by health by experts will be followed wherever and whenever vaccinations take place, ensuring clinics can be held without putting anyone’s health at risk.

Allison Cannon, Chief Nurse Officer for Sussex NHS commissioners said, “We are urging parents to help us protect your little ones from flu and the vaccination is available free on 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.

“If you two to three year olds please speak to your GP practice about the arrangements this year and please attend a clinic appointment. If you have children in school years Reception to Year 7 please make sure you sign their consent form receive this through school so they can have the flu vaccine.”