Wirral families urged to act fast to avoid festive flu as data suggests low vaccine coverage
Wirral health officials are urging families across the borough to protect themselves and their children from flu over the coming weeks. The advice comes amid warnings that flu cases may peak over the busy Christmas period.
Last year, one in three eligible children and adults in Wirral missed out on their free NHS flu vaccination. And of the 7,275 eligible 2-3 year olds in Wirral, more than 4000 went unvaccinated.
According to data gathered by Wirral Intelligence Service, as of November 2019 just 25% of 2-3 year olds had received the vaccine in Wirral.
This sits slightly lower than the national picture of 28% as of early December 2019.
Cllr Christine Jones, cabinet member for adult care and health, said: “More than half of Wirral’s 2-3 year olds missed their free NHS flu vaccination last year.
“We know that children are ‘super spreaders’ of flu. Once the little ones have got it, the whole family are more likely to catch it, especially around the holiday season when they’re more likely to see friends and relatives.
“Children aged 2-3 can receive a free flu vaccine via their practice nurse or GP. There’s no needle – just a quick and easy nasal spray.
“To book your family’s vaccines, call your GP or practice nurse today.”
Wirral has already seen flu cases with NHS teams in GP surgeries, A&E departments and hospital wards reporting the number of people coming forward for treatment increasing.
Due to delays in vaccine delivery from the manufacturer nationally, vaccine uptake among 2-3 year olds is lagging behind previous flu seasons.
The delays have now been resolved and Public Health, NHS and CCG partners are urging parents to contact their GP without delay.
Dr Paula Cowan, Chair of Wirral CCG, said: “Flu can be potentially life threatening and as we are now in the midst of the season, I strongly urge vaccination as soon as possible, particularly in vulnerable groups, including 2-3 year olds and parents.
“The initial evidence suggests this year’s vaccine is a good match for the main strain of flu that is currently circulating.
“This means that the flu vaccine – or nasal spray for children - offers the best possible protection available.”
Top tips to reduce the spread of flu… alongside vaccination:
- Use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze
- Wash your hands often with warm water and soap
- Bin used tissues as quickly as possible.
If you have concerns for yourself or a loved one, you can use the free NHS 111 phone or online service to get advice on the best course of action.