Rise in cases is behind plea to parents of young children to get flu vaccine - The Coventry Observer

Rise in cases is behind plea to parents of young children to get flu vaccine

Coventry Editorial 14th Dec, 2022   0

PARENTS of young children are being urged to book get them a flu vaccine after a rise in hospital admissions for under-fives.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) say latest figures show that children under 5 years old make up the highest rate of hospitalisations for flu in the country.

Parents of 2 to 3-year-olds are being reminded to protect their youngsters from flu, as latest uptake of the nasal flu vaccine in 2-year olds is at best 29.7 per cent, with uptake as low as 11.6 per cent.

While the highest coverage for 3-year-olds in the region is just 30.7 per cent, with lowest figures at 13.2 per cent.

UKHSA said flu is circulating at higher levels than in the past few years.

Dr James Chipwete, health protection consultant and flu lead with UKHSA West Midlands, said: “As cases of flu are increasing, we’re urging parents to get their children protected, as nationally rates of flu are highest in five to 14-year-olds, while the greatest number of hospitalisations for flu are currently in under 5s.

“This year, with everyone mixing as we did before the pandemic, and reduced immunity after not mixing as much for the last few years, we are preparing for a challenging winter.

“Currently Covid-19 levels are low, but cases are likely to rise steeply, and this, along with circulation of flu, could make for one of the most challenging winter seasons we have ever seen.

“That’s why it is so important that people get their vaccines as soon as possible and make sure their children are protected.”

UKHSA says rates in primary school children across the country are exceeding last year’s uptake levels for the comparable timeframe, with over 21 per cent vaccinated nationally – an increase of over seven per cent from last year.

It added pregnant women in the region are also at greater risk of hospitalisations due to severe effects of flu, and complications for their unborn child.

However in the West Midlands, the highest uptake is just 31.3 per cent, with a low of just 11.4 per cent uptake.

Dr Chipwete said: “The latest data gives us great cause for concern, with some of the most vulnerable people of all ages still unprotected against flu.

“The fact that we have seen a rise of nine per cent of hospitalised flu cases needing treatment in intensive care units and high dependency units in the region, shows how dangerous flu can be, and we are only at the start of the flu season.

“Getting the vaccine also reduces risk of passing infection to more vulnerable people, who could become severely ill and need hospitalisation – plus adding avoidable strain on our hospitals.

“If you are feeling unwell, make sure you avoid contact with elderly people or those with underlying health conditions – and please get your vaccine if eligible.”

For more visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine.

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