A Barnsley health partnership has urged parents and caregivers to vaccinate their two to three-year-olds against the flu, as children under five are most likely to contract the virus.

This is because under-five-year-olds are more likely to be hospitalised due to flu than any other age group. Children of this age also spread viruses more quickly, so vaccinating them protects others at risk, such as infants and the elderly.

Julia Burrows, Barnsley Council’s Executive Director of Public Health and Communities, said: “Having a flu vaccine is the best protection against flu this winter, so I strongly urge every parent in Barnsley to get their two to three-year-old vaccinated.

“Flu isn’t the same as the common cold. It’s caused by a different group of viruses, and the symptoms start more suddenly, become more severe and last longer. It can be horrible for young children and lead to serious problems, such as bronchitis and pneumonia, which are likely to lead to hospitalisation.

“It is also really important we vaccinate our children so that they don’t pass it on to others who are more vulnerable, such as their grandparents or baby brothers or sisters.”

The flu vaccination is the best way to prevent your child from getting ill this flu season, or spreading the virus.

Dr Madhavi Guntamukkala, local GP and Barnsley’s Medical Director at NHS South Yorkshire, said: “The vaccine is given to children as a spray squirted up each nostril. The nasal spray flu vaccine is safe and effective, and it’s quick and painless. Any child who catches flu after vaccination is less likely to be seriously ill or be admitted to hospital.”

“The flu vaccine does not cause flu in children, but some may have minor side effects afterwards, such as a blocked nose, headache or tiredness. Side effects are mild. However, your child is less likely to get flu after being vaccinated, and if they do, it will be a milder illness.”
She urges parents to take their children to the GP as soon as possible.