A recent report from Public Health England has indicated that almost half of toddlers in Lincolnshire at risk of flu did not have their jabs last year.
Out of 1,136 children aged between two and four years old in the county, only 629 received a vaccination in 2015-16.
This figure highlights that over half of the children in Lincolnshire are at risk of becoming seriously ill from flu.
The ‘flu season’ usually falls between September and January and sees many who catch it with symptoms such as:
- a sudden fever (a temperature of 38C or above)
- a dry, chesty cough and/or a sore throat
- a headache
- tiredness and weakness
- aching muscles and/or limb or joint pain
- diarrhoea or abdominal pain and/or nausea and vomiting
- a runny or blocked nose and/or sneezing
- loss of appetite
- difficulty sleeping
It has also been warned that not having a vaccine at such a young age could also lead to death in some cases.
Changes to the programme
In 2015, the flu vaccination programme was extended to all children between the ages of two to four years old.
This programme aims to help prevent the disease spreading by not only by giving the vaccine to those at a risk of developing the virus, but by giving it to everyone within that age category.
A spokesperson for Healthwatch Lincolnshire, the county health watchdog, said: “Eight out of ten people miss vital immunisations and screenings which could prevent ill health.
“Children in particular are a high risk group and Healthwatch Lincolnshire encourage parents to protect their children against avoidable illness such as flu.
“A Children’s vaccine is offered as a yearly nasal spray to young children to protect them against flu.
“Flu can be a very unpleasant illness for children. It can have serious long lasting complications, including bronchitis and pneumonia which can have a lasting affect on young lungs.”
However, majority of residents aged 65 and over, who are equally at risk, went for their flu vaccine last year.
Around 71% of pensioners in Lincolnshire were vaccinated against the flu virus in 2015-16, in comparision to the majority of children at equal risk who didn’t.
Lincolnshire Reporter has taken to social media to find out what you think. Many of you agreed that the vaccine should be compulsory for young children.
Here is what just a few residents in Lincolnshire had to say:
Ami Cribb, a mum of two, said: “I’ve refused the vaccine for both my daughters over the years.
“Flu is very very rare. I know three separate people’s children that’ve had it and it’s hospitalised them.
“I shouldn’t be forced to make them have the jabs if it’s against my will.”
Natasha Brooks, a mum from Lincolnshire, said: “I think [flu jabs] should be compulsory for all children, most of the population comes in contact with children.
“Protecting the bug carriers eliminates the flu from spreading, after all, those that have children knows it only takes one to have it and the whole class has it!”
Amanda Anthony, from Lincoln, said:
“Many parents do not realise their child is entitled to the vaccine.
“Our little girl has had hers the last three years and doesn’t even get a cold now!
“Would definitely recommend it but don’t think it should be compulsory. Also, as it is a live vaccine not everyone can have it.”
What are your thoughts? Let us know what you think by emailing [email protected]