Only Children At-Risk Should Get Flu Jab

11 January 2011, 05:00

Parents are being told that the seasonal flu vaccine is reserved only for children and adults in priority at-risk groups.

NHS Norfolk's Flu Co-ordinator, Dave Kerry, said: "We are receiving reports from a number of GP Practices that parents are requesting vaccinations for children who are not in one of the clinical at-risk groups.

All GPs who offer the free NHS seasonal flu vaccination are working to very clear Department of Health guidelines and will only be able to administer vaccines if patients are in one of the specified at-risk groups.

All parents have the best interests of their children at heart and your GP will completely understand this. However we ask members of the public to be understanding and only request a vaccination if your child has a condition which your GP knows about such as asthma, immune problems which places them in one of the at-risk groups.

If you believe they are seriously unwell, then contact your GP."

Mr Kerry added: "We are pleased and encouraged by numerous anecdotal reports from Practices that many pregnant women are coming forward and asking for the vaccine. Pregnant women are particularly being invited as they are also in the eligible groups.

The Chief Medical Officer has told GPs they can use existing stocks of swine flu vaccine held safely in storage from last year. This will help the situation - current indications are that across Norfolk we have adequate stocks of vaccine, including swine flu vaccines from last year if necessary, to meet the needs of our at-risk patients."

Who should have the vaccine?

In most cases, people in at-risk groups will have already been invited by their GP Practice for the vaccination.

You should have the seasonal flu vaccination if you fall into any of the following groups:

a.    People aged 65 years or over
b.    Pregnant women in any stage of pregnancy
c.    People living in a residential or nursing home, or
d.    the main carer for an older or disabled person.

Even if you feel healthy, you may still be at increased risk of seasonal flu.  The free seasonal flu vaccination is recommended if you have:

e.    a heart problem
f.    a chest complaint or breathing difficulties including, bronchitis, emphysema
g.    a kidney disease
h.    lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (such as steroid medication or cancer treatment)
i.    a liver disease
j.    had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
k.    diabetes
l.    a neurological condition e.g. multiple sclerosis (MS) or cerebral palsy
m.    a problem with, or removal of, your spleen e.g. sickle cell disease.