When I was younger, I assumed flu was just a ‘bad cold’. A bit of coughing, a bit of sneezing and some aching muscles. But as I have got older, I have become aware of what a nasty disease the flu really is – potentially deadly in fact.In 2013/14 a total of 904 admissions to intensive care were flu related, and there were 98 deaths. 98! That’s shocking isn’t it, considering that a lot of us do think of flu as being a fairly mild infection.
In an average flu season in England, flu affects up to 10% of children aged 0-14, and that’s exactly why the new vaccine has come into force. A lot of you will have heard about it already – a free nasal spray vaccine for all children aged 2,3 and 4, in addition to ‘at risk’ children of any age. Of course, there are many questions surrounding this – it’s a new vaccination programme, and that always throws up doubts, concerns and requests for information – parents want to know exactly what they are giving their little ones, and exactly what the benefits are. A new documentary commissioned by AstraZeneca and hosted by Dr Ranj Singh explains more about flu and the importance of immunisation.
Dr Singh said: “We shouldn’t forget that flu can be a potentially deadly disease and if not controlled, can spread fiercely. We are lucky to live in a country where we are actually offered a free comprehensive flu vaccination programme for our children. I fear that, unless people understand the facts, it won’t be until flu affects them personally that they’ll take action in the form of vaccination. I hope that is not the case. We really shouldn’t take that risk with our children when we have a vaccine on offer. Part of this is down to healthcare professionals like me, but also our schools and government to ensure that our community and children are protected.”
There is a great section in the video that shows just how easy it is to spread germs, especially amongst children. Using paint covered toys, the children can see that the germs can be spread across a whole classroom within seconds – and this helps parents to understand how infectious these sorts of infections are. The flu vaccine can not only prevent a nasty case of flu, but can prevent the more serious conditions that can develop as a result of the flu. We all know that flu can be more dangerous in the elderly – but have you ever thought about how easy it would be for your toddler to pass the flu virus across to their grandparents?
So, there are some simple steps we can take to protect our children from flu (source: Share good times, not flu):
Gemma isn’t eligible for the vaccine, as she is 8. Jacob is – although he is 6, he has asthma and so has been receiving the flu vaccine for a few years now. Next year, Max will also be eligible for it. Will he be getting it? Yes, he definitely will. I am quite pro-vaccine – after a lot of research and weighing up of the pros and cons, I think that the potential concerns over vaccination are far outweighed by the devastating outcomes some of the diseases we are protecting against could cause. Flu is one of those diseases, especially for someone like Jacob who has a lower immune system than some. A dose of flu could be so risky for him, and for that reason I will be vaccinating. Will you?