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Merton Council and NHS call on parents to protect children from flu for winter


Doctors in Merton are urging parents to vaccinate their toddlers against the flu this winter, after figures revealed that only 35% of 2-3 year olds in the borough received the free flu vaccination last year – a figure significantly below national average*. 
 
Officials warn that little children are some of the worst affected by the virus and, if they get it, they’re likely to infect other members of the family too. 
 
Highly contagious, flu causes serious illness to thousands in Merton every winter. In the worst cases children can develop a very high fever or complications of flu, such as bronchitis or pneumonia, and may require hospital treatment to feel better.  
 
Dr Andrew Murray, Merton GP and CCG Chair said:
 
“The figures for Merton are concerning - there are potentially lots of toddlers in the borough at risk of getting flu and spreading it to their family members.
 
“If your child is 2-3, I’d urge you to speak to your GP practice about the flu vaccine - in most cases, they’ll be able to receive a quick, free and painless nasal spray. For school-age children from reception class to year 5, the vaccine is usually provided free of charge in schools.”
 
NHS Merton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Merton Council are working together to support this year's Help Us to Help You campaign, led by NHS England and Public Health England, which aims to encourage anyone eligible for a free flu jab to get vaccinated.

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. Make sure you and your family are protected this winter and get your flu jabs in time. It is also important for carers to be immunised too to protect them and the people they look after.”
 
Pregnant women, those with an underlying health condition and those aged 65 and over are also likely to suffer more than most if they contract flu, which is why the NHS is offering free vaccinations to all those who are eligible. Last year 65% of over 65s in Merton were vaccinated.
 
Visit www.nhs.uk/fluvaccine for more information on flu, the flu vaccine and where to get it.