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Pregnant women and young children in Gedling borough being urged to book in for flu jab this winter

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By Alex Smith

Pregnant women and parents with young children in Gedling borough are being urged to book in for a flu jab this year after latest figures only a third booked in for a vaccination last year.

Between September 2015 and January, 34.8% of expectant women – who are registered with a GP in the city – booked in for a jab, below the national average of 42.3% and the regional average of 41.4%.

Meanwhile, 33.2% of two to four year olds in the city registered for a vaccination, again below the national average of 34.4% and regional average of 40%.

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The calls come following the launch of the Stay Well This Winter campaign on Wednesday, run jointly by Public Health England and NHS England.

National health bosses have announced the vaccination programme is being extended to those in year 3 at school – an overall increase of about 600,000.

An annual flu vaccine nasal spray will now be offered to children aged two, three and four year olds, and to pupils in year 1 and year 2.

Pregnant women, anyone over 65, anyone who is very overweight – with a body mass index over 40 – children and adults with weakened immune systems or an underlying health condition can get a flu jab.

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Mother-of-two Sarah Quilty, who has asthma, had her flu jab last week and will be ensuring her six-year-old daughter, Phaedra, and four-year-old son, Balthazar – who both attend Willow Farm Primary School in Gedling – get vaccinated.

Ms Quilty, who lives in Gedling, said: “If my children get flu, they could miss a week of school, and a week at school is a lot of education as well as the social side that school brings.

“[The figures] concern me because the information really isn’t out there, and it’s only now that the information’s being pushed nationally.

“Hopefully the campaign will increase awareness and more parents will take their children to get vaccinated.”

Flu can cause serious complications for a pregnant woman and her baby, while children are most likely to spread flu to others.

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Public Health England estimate several million people get flu each winter, which led to more than 2,000 NHS intensive care admissions across the UK last year.

Councillor Alex Norris, portfolio holder for adults and health at Nottingham City Council, said: “A large number of people view flu as simply a ‘bad cold’. They are completely unaware of the risks, and potentially serious consequences, of catching it – particularly among vulnerable groups.

“Here in Nottingham, we are aware that we need to increase the number of pregnant women and pre-school children receiving the vaccination.”

Professor Paul Cosford, director for health protection and medical director at Public Health England, added: “I would encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated to help protect themselves and those around them.

“It is important to get vaccinated every year. Flu is unpredictable and previous years’ vaccinations may not protect you against the types of flu virus circulating this year.”

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