Health officials urge children to get flu jabs this season

The holiday season is just around the corner and so is the anticipated flu season, which is expected to be worse this year. Public health officials warn parents to vaccinate their children against the influenza virus in abundance of precaution and to prevent serious complications.

Medical professionals in the United Kingdom say that immunization is still the best defense against seasonal flu, which can prevent the occurrence of serious complications. The vaccine is important for everyone, especially those who are at a higher risk of developing complications. They include pregnant women, infants, children, older adults, and those with underlying conditions such as immunosuppression.

Image Credit: Perutskyi Petro
Image Credit: Perutskyi Petro

Grandparents at risk

Children should be vaccinated against flu before they visit their grandparents, the doctors warned. Children are considered “super-spreaders” since they have poor hygiene compared to adults. Hence, they may pose a threat to older adults, especially those with underlying health conditions. Kids are also at a higher risk of coming in close contact with other people since they are hugged, kissed, and picked up more often by relatives.

More people who are over 65 years old had their flu vaccine this time than last year, but it doesn’t mean that doctors won’t urge action from people of all ages to get the jab. Health experts Professor Stephen Powis, the NHS national medical director, and Professor Yvonne Doyle, Public Health England’s Medical Director, encourage vaccination since there is an increased risk of flu during the holiday season, particularly during Christmas, Hanukah, and the New Year.

They said that people should protect themselves and prevent going down the flu, instead of celebrating the joyous celebrations to wrap up the year.

“It’s good to see that more people over the age of 65 have already got their jab. For older people and those with underlying health conditions, getting flu is particularly bad news because it can lead to really serious conditions like pneumonia and bronchitis, which can mean a lengthy stay in the hospital. And we know that children are ‘super spreaders’ of flu, particularly around the holiday season when they’re more likely to see elderly relatives,” Professor Stephen Powis said.

Flu vaccine benefits

Public Health England (PHE) released the most recent data on clinic visits for influenza-like illness have increased by a staggering 24 percent between week 48 and 49. Doctors have seen the rise of patients seeking medical attention in clinics and hospitals with some homes and schools reporting potential outbreaks. With the vaccine, this number can go down gradually.

The flu virus can take a toll on the health of anyone of all ages, and getting the jab provides a lot of benefits. Vulnerable populations can benefit more in getting jabs since they are at the highest risk of developing potentially life-threatening complications.
Since public school immunization programs won’t start until the first weeks of January, the doctors encourage that parents let their kids get vaccines before the holiday season, especially the kids who missed their vaccine this year.

“No one wants to see their children suffering from flu – far from a common cold, flu can have serious consequences for young children and those with underlying medical conditions,” Professor Yvonne Doyle said.

“There’s still a week before Christmas, parents of 2-3-year-olds or those with underlying medical conditions should not delay, get your children vaccinated as soon as possible. To reduce the risk of spreading flu, use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze, wash your hands often with warm water and soap, and bin used tissues as quickly as possible. Catch it. Bin it. Kill it,” she added.

In preparation for the flu season, the health service in England has pioneered the largest flu protection drive to help people and reduce admissions in urgent care centers this winter season. The number of individuals who can receive the vaccine, from toddlers to seniors, is 25 million and the health agency aims to cover all the population.

Sources:
Angela Betsaida B. Laguipo

Written by

Angela Betsaida B. Laguipo

Angela is a nurse by profession and a writer by heart. She graduated with honors (Cum Laude) for her Bachelor of Nursing degree at the University of Baguio, Philippines. She is currently completing her Master's Degree where she specialized in Maternal and Child Nursing and worked as a clinical instructor and educator in the School of Nursing at the University of Baguio.

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