I work as a Practice Nurse within a GP surgery, so that means I am heavily involved in the promotion and administration of the nasal spray flu vaccine for children. I have noticed that apart from GP surgeries writing to parents to remind them that the nasal flu is available, there seems to be very little in the way of public promotion on this very important vaccination.
We all know the hand hygiene of our little people can be very poor. When pre-schoolers start Nursery there seems to be an influx of them picking up every bug going. Most parents I know are making sure their children are up to date with their pre-school booster and MMR, but what about getting the nasal flu this Winter?
You might be thinking is it really necessary? The first thing I would say is think about contracting Flu, it really is an unpleasant experience for both you and your child. Flu itself is a lot more than a nasty cold and it can lead to hospitalisation in a young child, especially one that has a chronic conditions such as Asthma and Diabetes. According to the DOH “Healthy under-5s are more likely to be admitted to hospital with flu than any other age group – and 5 times more likely than 65-year-olds”.
Another side issue that I would like to point out is how contracting Flu and then passing it on to another member of the community is something that we really can avoid. Looking at immunisation from this perspective is something in my experience as a health professional that people rarely consider. Perhaps your child is going to be visiting an elderly person who for what ever reason didn’t manage to get their flu jab this Winter. How would you feel about passing it on to them? Or maybe you have a friend or relative who is undergoing chemotherapy and their immune system is compromised? Catching Flu could really put them at risk. Lastly how about newborn or premature babies, they are really at risk from Flu and the complications that goes with it. I think we all need to think a bit further that our own families.
Which children are offered it?
In the autumn/winter of 2016-17, the vaccine will be available free on the NHS for eligible children, including:
children aged two, three and four on August 31 2016 – that is, children born between September 1 2011 and August 31 2014
children in school years one, two and three
in some parts of the country, all primary school-aged children will be offered the vaccine as part of a test programme
children aged 2 to 17 with long-term health conditions
(Above information from NHS Choices)
So what does it involve?
I administer this vaccination numerous times a day, so I can tell you honestly it is pain free and if anything your child may find it uncomfortable for a few seconds at the most. The vaccine is squirted up both nostrils, your child doesn’t have to do anything and that is it! (some children may require a second dose if they have a chronic health condition check with your GP).
Make sure you tell your health professional if your child has any allergies, especially eggs or neomycin as this vaccine may not be advisable.
So if you have not heard from your local surgery by November then why not contact them to book an appointment, or you could ask your School Nurse.
For more information have a look at the following Public Health England leaflet
If you have any more questions you can have a look at the below link or speak to your GP or Practice Nurse.
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