Three Sefton sisters are among the first in the borough to have the flu vaccination as a nasal spray this year.
Siblings Lily, Grace and Ella Brockbank have all received the nasal spray to help protect them against flu, and Sefton Council is recommending other parents and carers follow suit.
Since last year, there has been a new nasal spray for all young children aged 2 and 3 and for 2014, the spray is also being offered to all 2, 3 and 4-year-olds to protect them from flu.
All pregnant women, residents of all ages with a health condition and everyone aged 65 and over are currently being offered the free flu jab to ensure they are vaccinated this winter.
Flu is a really unpleasant illness, which most people recover from themselves over about a week. Some people are at a much greater risk from the serious effects of flu, including pregnant women, the very young, people of any age with health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes, weakened immune systems, and older people.
Each winter, tens of thousands of people in England end up in hospital because of flu. Flu can be very serious. In the UK, about 600 people a year die from a complication of seasonal flu. This rises to around 13,000 during an epidemic.
The flu virus is very unpredictable and, some years, flu causes more sickness than others because new strains emerge and spread. This is why it is really important for people eligible for a free flu vaccination to get it every year.
Dr Janet Atherton, Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “Flu can be very serious and should not be underestimated. I strongly encourage people who are eligible for a free flu vaccination to take up the offer to protect themselves.
“Pregnant women can safely have the flu vaccine at anytime in pregnancy to protect themselves and their unborn baby. The vaccine reduces the risk of complications of flu like premature birth and pneumonia and all pregnant women should take up the offer.”
Sefton GP, Dr Gustavo Berni, from Vitty, Pfeiffer and Berni practice in Waterloo, said: “We are urging everyone who is offered a free flu jab to make sure they have it.
“Parents of children aged 2, 3 and 4 years old may not know that their children should have a free flu nasal spray so we want to spread this message. The spray is simple, quick and painless and available for 2, 3 and 4 year olds through their GP.”
Cllr Paul Cummins, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Older People and Health, said: “The flu vaccination is a really important public health campaign to protect Sefton residents who are at greater risk of serious effects from flu.
“We want to make sure that everyone who is eligible for a free flu vaccine is aware that they need it and know how to get it. It is free because you need it. I urge anyone at risk of flu to speak to their GP about protecting themselves.”
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