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Giving your child the flu vaccine

I really like the Autumn season. Watching the leaves change colour and getting to jump in huge piles of fallen leaves, as well as the darker nights and being able to keep cosy and enjoy comforting soups and stews!

What I don’t like though is all the little viruses and bugs that tend to come around.

If you’ve ever had “proper” flu before, you’d know it! It washes you out completely and can leave you bedridden for days. High fevers, shivers, and aches and pains – horrible to see in a child, and we don’t like to see our children unwell; it worries us as parents and carers doesn’t it? Not to mention that not all little ones can tell us when they feel unwell.

This year, more than ever, it’s so important to think about the childhood flu immunisation that’s on offer to your child. We have the threat of Covid-19 over our heads and as that’s also a respiratory illness, we can do a little more to offer protection for flu.

If you have a child aged 2-3 years of age and born between 1 September 2016 and 31 August  2018 they’ll be invited to attend their GP surgery to receive their flu immunisation. Well, when I say immunisation, it’s not a needle! The flu vaccine is given to children as a nasal spray. If your child has a long term health condition, they may be invited to have the vaccine anywhere from 6 months to 17 years.

Now, as it is a nasal spray on both sides, your child may sneeze or have a runny nose when it’s given. That’s ok – it will still work. Your child may have some other side effects afterwards like a blocked or a runny nose, feel tired and maybe lose their appetite. These effects shouldn’t last longer than a couple of days.

Now while we are on the subject of noses, I found out a really interesting fact this morning as I was driving to work. Did you know we have two nostrils to help us smell things better? Yes, of course you did but did you know that our nostrils take it in turns to be the lead nostril? They can change throughout the day but you will find one side can generally take in more air faster than the other – that’s because the other side is just resting and waiting for its turn! How amazing are our bodies?!

So to keep our bodies and our little ones as amazing as they are, it’s really good to protect and prevent the flu virus from spreading. We’ve got so good at wearing our masks, keeping our 2 metre distance and trying to avoid unnecessary outings, but our smaller ones are good at spreading germs! They want to hug and play and climb all over Grandad when they meet! By taking your toddler to the GP for their flu vaccine you are helping to prevent that spread reaching further.

Contact your GP surgery for more information, or have a look on the NHS website. There’s also lots of information on our Immunisation team pages.

There is a great video below for children and young people from the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust. 

About the author

Kirstie is the Professional Development Lead Health Visiting and Infant Feeding Lead for Berkshire Healthcare