Parents are being urged not to delay in getting the flu vaccine for their toddlers and children with the take-up rate worryingly lower than last year.
It is given as a nasal spray and is quick and painless.
Public Health Director for Wakefield, Anna Hartley said that the flu is now circulating across the UK especially in the north of the country.
It is highly infectious with symptoms that come on very quickly. The most common symptoms are fever, chills, headache, aches and pains in the joints and muscles, and extreme tiredness.
She said: “I urge parents to take their two and three year old’s as well as children who are at risk to their GP without delay. The flu virus is now well in circulation. Getting inoculated can save toddlers and children many sleepless, painful and uncomfortable nights.
“The vaccine will safeguard children against the flu virus, but if they do not get the flu shot and they become infected, there is no cure. They will have to ride it out by getting a lot of rest and drinking a lot of liquid. For some, it could lead to complications requiring hospitalisation. Therefore preventing it is better than trying to cure it.
“The flu strain that is now in circulation is well matched to this year’s vaccine so we are confident that if taken, it will reduce the number of children coming down the flu this winter season.
“As we start December the rate of people receiving the vaccine is lower than in 2018 and that is primarily because there was a month’s delay by the World Health Organisation in recommending which strains should be targeted this year. But we have it now and everyone who needs it should get it without delay.”
The flu vaccine is also free for pregnant women, people over 65 years old, people with certain long-term illnesses, those in a long-stay residential care facility and carers.
For most healthy people, flu is a very unpleasant disease and it generally takes about a week to recover.
But for some, the disease can increase the risk of developing more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia, or it can make existing conditions worse. In the worst cases, flu can result in a stay in the hospital or even death.
Flu is a common illness amongst babies and children, the evidence shows that children under the age of five are more likely to be admitted to hospital with flu than any other age group.
To help stop the spread of flu, people are advised to cover their mouth when coughing or sneezing and to wash their hands regularly. For further advice and information about the flu vaccination, people are advised to speak to their GP, practice nurse or pharmacist, or read Public Health England’s flu vaccination leaflet.