Give children flu spray so they don't infect grandma: NHS warns parents that youngsters are 'super-spreaders of the disease after just one in five take up offer of free vaccination

  • Children in the UK should get flu vaccines to stop them infecting their family
  • Infants are 'super-spreaders' of the illness but vaccine uptake has been low?
  • Figures reveal around 34,300 died last winter from ‘circulating viral infections’
  • All children up to the age of nine are entitled to a free nasal spray vaccination?

Children should receive flu vaccines to stop them infecting their grandparents at Christmas parties, the NHS advised yesterday.

Infants and those in primary schools are ‘super-spreaders’ of the illness, bosses said.

All children up to the age of nine are entitled to a free vaccination given as a nasal spray.

But uptake has been low so far this year. Fewer than one in five of eligible children – or just 18 per cent – have been vaccinated.

All children up to the age of nine are entitled to a free vaccination given as a nasal spray but uptake this year has been slow - just 18 per cent have been vaccinated

All children up to the age of nine are entitled to a free vaccination given as a nasal spray but uptake this year has been slow - just 18 per cent have been vaccinated

With less than a month before Christmas, experts said children should be vaccinated to protect the elderly and others who are vulnerable.?

This way they will be less likely to catch the virus in schools or nurseries and then spread it. Influenza can be very serious for older people and can lead to serious complications.?

ONS figures reveal around 34,300 died last winter as a result of ‘circulating viral infections’ including flu.

The virus can increase the risk of death in older people and vulnerable groups such as asthma sufferers and pregnant women.

Experts have said that children should be vaccinated to protect the elderly and others who are vulnerable

Experts have said that children should be vaccinated to protect the elderly and others who are vulnerable

The long-term effects of being admitted to hospital are particularly damaging for pensioners. Just ten days in a hospital bed leaves them ten years weaker in terms of muscle strength.

As well as children, NHS England and Public Health England are also urging frontline care workers who have contact with vulnerable people to take up the vaccine. It is hoped a £10million investment in flu vaccination will ease the pressures that a mass outbreak could place on health services this winter.

Professor Keith Willett, NHS England’s Medical Director for Acute Care, said: ‘Flu can be spread more easily by children, especially to vulnerable relatives such as older grandparents.?

'With less than a month until family gatherings over the festive season, there’s still time for parents to get their “super-spreader” children vaccinated to help protect elderly relatives over Christmas and before the flu season traditionally reaches its peak.?

'Last year millions of people missed out on their free vaccination and yet it’s one simple, common sense step to help us all stay healthy this winter.’

Dr Paul Cosford, Medical Director at PHE, said: ‘The vaccine is the best protection there is against flu, which causes on average 8,000 deaths a year – many of which occur in the winter months.

‘The nasal spray vaccine last year reduced children’s risk of flu by 65 per cent meaning they were less likely to spread it to relatives.?

'Over the next few weeks ahead of Christmas, we urge parents of eligible children aged two and three to book their vaccine via their GP or local pharmacy.

‘Parents should also give consent for ... children to receive the vaccine in school. It’s quick, easy and painless.’?

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