Children are almost three times more likely to be ill with flu than adults.
The sore throat, fever, aches and chills can take their toll on youngsters, leaving them feeling under the weather for weeks and in more severe cases can mean a stay in hospital. Jane Evans lives with her husband and seven-year-old daughter Grace in Trinity, Edinburgh.
In February 2014, Jane and Grace were bedridden for weeks after catching flu.
“Grace and I are normally really fit and healthy and lead a very active life,” explains Jane.
“It was a real shock to catch flu and be so ill from it. I learned in the worst possible way that flu is certainly nothing like a bad cold.
“The virus placed extra pressure on Grace’s respiratory system and we both suffered from fevers, aching muscles, sickness and even ulcers inside our mouths.
“Grace was only five when she caught the flu virus and it was upsetting to see such a young child in so much pain.
“We have elderly relatives who would be seriously ill if they caught flu from us should we contract the virus again in the future. If a family member has a weakened immune system or an underlying health condition you are keen to protect them.”
For the first time, all parents of pre-school children have been contacted and encouraged to make an appointment with their GP to get their child vaccinated. Older children are being offered the vaccine at school.
When the NHS offered over 550,000 children aged between two and 11 the nasal spray flu vaccination, following the extension of the flu immunisation programme last year, Jane jumped at the chance to prevent Grace from coming down with the illness for a second time.
“I was delighted when Grace was offered the opportunity to receive the flu vaccine at school this year and I was quick to consent,” says Jane. “The nasal spray vaccine for children means there is no need for needles and it was a quick and painless experience.”
The Flu Vaccination Programme
○ GP surgeries, clinics and primary schools are offering the free flu vaccine as part of Scotland’s national flu immunisation programme.
○ Over 550,000 children aged between two and 11 are being offered the nasal spray flu vaccination.
○ Every child aged two to 11 is now being offered the nasal spray flu vaccine.
○ Children aged two to five who are not yet at school will be vaccinated at their GP surgery.
○ Primary school children aged between five and 11 years old will be vaccinated at their school, providing their parents have given consent.
○ The vaccine that will be used for most children is administered as a nasal spray.
○ An injectable vaccine is available for children who cannot be vaccinated with the nasal spray.
○ www.immunisationscotland.org.uk/childflu or phone NHS Inform on 0800 22 44 88.