While some people might think influenza is a bad cold, 'flu' can actually be a severe illness that can lead to serious complications – particularly in winter – for the very young, elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
Cheshire East Council and NHS England are encouraging everyone who is eligible for a free flu vaccination to make sure that they have it, as we are now seeing more cases.
Parents of children aged two and three are also strongly recommended to make sure that their children have had their free flu vaccination. Flu vaccination for children aged two to eight is quickly done with a simple nasal spray instead of a jab.
Flu is a serious illness, so it is very important for those in 'at risk' groups, including young children, to be vaccinated with the free vaccine so they can stay well. Each winter many people become seriously ill and children under the age of five are more likely to be admitted to hospital with flu than any other age group.
Without the flu vaccination children are more likely to catch flu at nursery or school and then spread it to others very quickly. The vaccine works best for children so, when they are vaccinated, the rest of the family, especially older people, are better protected.
There is still time for you or your child to be vaccinated so that you can be protected against flu this season.
Councillor Liz Wardlaw, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for health, said: "Flu can be a horrible illness, not only for older people and those with other medical problems but also for young children.
"Children have the same symptoms as adults – including fever, chills, aching muscles, headache, stuffy nose, dry cough and sore throat. Some children develop a very high fever or more severe complications of flu, such as bronchitis or pneumonia and can need hospital treatment.
"As we start to see more people getting flu across the North West, I urge those who are eligible to get the free vaccination if they haven't already done so. It's not too late."
Those eligible to receive a free flu jab on the NHS are:
● People aged 65 or over;
● All pregnant women;
● People living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility;
● Those in receipt of a carer's allowance or those who are the main carer of an older or disabled person, whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill;
● People aged from six months to less than 65 years of age, who have certain medical conditions (including diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, heart problems, chronic neurological diseases and conditions such as Parkinson's, chronic respiratory disease and those with a weakened immune system);
● All two and three-year-olds (nasal spray vaccine); and
● All children in school years from reception, through to Year 4 (nasal spray vaccine).
To get the vaccine or find out if you are eligible, contact your GP, practice nurse or pharmacy for more information.