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Protect your family from flu this winter

Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health, Councillor Tobin Byers, receives his flu vaccination from Pharmacist Raj R Patel at the Nelson Pharmacy

Parents of children aged two and three are being reminded that they can help protect their little ones from flu this winter with one simple free nasal spray available from their GP.

Anyone aged over 65 or with an existing long term serious health problem is also eligible for a free flu jab. 

Merton children aged two and three, alongside children in the reception class and in school years 1, 2, 3 and 4 will all be offered a free nasal spray vaccination this year.

Parents of pre-school children are being contacted by their GP Practice while the older children have been offered the vaccine at school. Nurses are currently visiting Merton's primary schools.

Merton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Merton Council are working together to  support this year's Stay Well This Winter campaign, led by NHS England and Public Health England, which aims to encourage anyone eligible for a free flu jab to get vaccinated.

The flu virus spreads easily and quickly, infecting both adults and children alike. This can lead to days spent in bed rather than being at work or school, causing considerable inconvenience for the whole family, not to mention putting more vulnerable family members at risk.

Merton Council's Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health, Councillor Tobin Byers, said: "As an asthma sufferer, I have a flu jab every year and would encourage all those eligible to be vaccinated too.

"Catching flu is a miserable experience for anyone, but for some people including pregnant women, the elderly and people with long term health conditions, flu can increase their risk of developing a more serious illness. It is also important for carers to be immunised too to protect them and the people they look after."

 Merton CCG Lead Nurse Fiona White said:

"Flu can be dangerous for young children. The nasal spray is painless and easy to have and will help protect your child against flu and possible serious complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia.

"By offering the vaccination to both pre-school and primary school children we are giving them the best possible protection and helping to protect more vulnerable family members too."

You are eligible to receive a free flu jab on the NHS if you:

  • are 65 years of age or over   
  • are pregnant
  • have certain medical conditions (such as a serious heart or chest complaint or breathing difficulties, including asthma, bronchitis and emphysema, diabetes or lowered immunity due to disease or treatment such as steroid medication or cancer treatment)
  • are living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility
  • receive a carer's allowance, or you are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill

The flu vaccine is free on the NHS for children:

  • over the age of six months with a long-term health condition
  • aged two and three on 31 August 2017 – that is, born between 1 September 2013 and 31 August 2015
  • in reception class and school years one, two, three and four

If you think you or your child needs a flu vaccination, check with your GP, practice nurse or local pharmacist. They will be happy to help.

For more information about the nasal spray vaccination and the flu jab visit www.nhs.uk/staywell