The new GM winter campaign sees Flo and Faisal the ‘Flu Fighter’ superheroes use protective shields that help to ‘shoo away’ flu germs – with the aim of raising awareness of the importance of under-5s getting their flu vaccinations from their local GP.
Children aged 2 to 3 have one of the highest flu related hospitalisation rates. Last year alone more than 6,000 in England hospitalised and many more needed care in accident and emergency.
GPs across GM are able to give young children a nasal flu vaccine rather than an injection to make the experience easier and less stressful – helping to provide early protection to reduce the child’s chance of needing hospital care by around two-thirds and helping to prevent it spreading among vulnerable family and friends.
Dr Helen Wall, Clinical Director for Population Health at NHS Greater Manchester Integrated Care said: “Flu makes everyone feel ill, but it can be particularly unpleasant for children – with a greater chance of them becoming very unwell and even ending up in hospital.
“Despite this, uptake in flu vaccines for 2 to 3 year olds in recent years has been falling, leading to lower levels of immunity among children which can make flu outbreaks more likely and place vulnerable people at greater risk.
“That’s why, with a little help from Flo and Faisal, we are asking for parents and carers across Greater Manchester, to take their children to the GP for the flu vaccine.
“Vaccination is our best defence against flu and the nasal flu vaccine makes it really easy for children to get the extra protection needed to keep them and those around them safe.”
There are some children who for medical or faith reasons may not be able to have the nasal vaccine; please discuss other options with your GP practice.
As well as the Flu and Faisal campaign, a new ‘Nursery Flu Pilot’ will soon launch in Salford which aims to make vaccinating 2 to 3 years olds more convenient for parents and boost flu vaccination rates across the city.
The initiative will operate across Swinton, Walkden and Little Hulton, offering flu nasal spray vaccinations to up to 800 children, across 20 nurseries at times when they will already be there.
Funded by the GM ‘Make Every Contact Count’ fund, the programme will start in the last week of October, with follow-up clinics scheduled for mid-November.
The winter flu and COVID-19 vaccination programme provides vital protection to those eligible and their families over winter, keeping people from developing serious illnesses, and helping to minimise hospitalisations during busy winter months.
Wherever possible and when relevant, vaccinations for flu and COVID-19 will be offered at the same time – making it easier and more convenient for people to get vital protection from both viruses ahead of winter. But they will also be offered separately.
It is important that those eligible this year come forward for their vaccinations as protection fades over time, and the virus that causes flu and COVID can change from year to year.
Adult flu and COVID-19 appointments are available through the NHS App and website, or by calling 119 for those who can’t get online. Flu vaccines are also available through local GP practices and pharmacies.
There is no change to flu vaccinations for children which will be offered in schools from early October, to prevent children from getting seriously ill from flu and ending up hospital, and to break the chain of transmission of the virus to the wider population.
The nasal flu vaccine is the most effective vaccine for children aged 2-17 years but if this is not suitable the GP or practice nurse may be able to offer a flu vaccine injection as an alternative.
Health and social care workers are also eligible for the winter vaccines and encouraged to come forward as soon as they can to ensure they are protected when at work.
In line with advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, those eligible for a flu vaccine this year include:
- those aged 65 years and over
- those aged 6 months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups (as defined by the Green Book, chapter 19 (Influenza))
- pregnant women
- all children aged 2 or 3 years on 31 August 2023
- school-aged children (from Reception to Year 11)
- those in long-stay residential care homes
- carers in receipt of carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person
- close contacts of immunocompromised individuals
- frontline workers in a social care setting without an employer led occupational health scheme including those working for a registered residential care or nursing home, registered domiciliary care providers, voluntary managed hospice providers and those that are employed by those who receive direct payments (personal budgets) or Personal Health budgets, such as Personal Assistants
Those eligible for an autumn covid vaccine are:
- residents in a care home for older adults
- all adults aged 65 years and over
- persons aged 6 months to 64 years in a clinical risk group, as laid out in the Immunisation Green Book, COVID-19 chapter (Green Book)
- frontline health and social care workers
- persons aged 12 to 64 years who are household contacts (as defined in the Green Book) of people with immunosuppression
- persons aged 16 to 64 years who are carers (as defined in the Green Book) and staff working in care homes for older adults.
For more information about the Autumn Winter vaccine programme you can visit: https://gmintegratedcare.org.uk/find-a-service/flu-and-covid-vaccinations/.
To find your nearest COVID-19 walk in clinic visit: https://gmintegratedcare.org.uk/covid-vaccine-walk-in-clinics/