Amid warnings that new cases of flu could peak over the busy Christmas period, the parents of a nine-year-old boy from Devon who died from the illness in January last year, are calling on parents to vaccinate their children.
The request follows the release of data from Public Health England (PHE), showing that GP consultations across the country for Influenza-like illness have risen in the last few weeks.
In Devon, community clinics are being scheduled for school age children, who missed their initial school appointment for a nasal flu spray. Parents who would like to book a flu vaccination, should call 0300 2470082 to arrange an appointment.
In addition, pre-school children and children who are at-risk are also eligible for a free vaccination. Parents should contact their local pharmacy or GP practice for more details.
Supporting the flu vaccination campaign, brave Devon parents; Louise Simons and Jamie Chrichard are once again sharing their emotional story at this difficult time - to help promote the campaign to vaccinate children.
Louise and Jamie say they don’t want other families to go through the pain they have suffered since ‘strong, kind and bright’ Coby died of pneumonia on 24 January 2018, just days after coming down with flu.
The #ThumbsUpForCoby social media campaign launched last year, with the phenomenal result of an additional 1500 children aged between two and three, being vaccinated.
Louise said: Taking part in the campaign was really important to us. It made us so proud to know the impact that our son’s story had, on other people. The main thing is that those children were being protected from the flu and I would urge all parents once again, to make sure their children are vaccinated.
Dad, Jamie added “We have learned so much about the flu and know how bad it can be and that so many people lose their lives. Coby was strong and hardly ever poorly – but the symptoms of flu were so hard to recognise.
Please don’t put your children at risk– make sure they have the flu vaccination and help us spread this message far and wide.”
Some delays have been experienced with the delivery of flu vaccines from the manufacturer, but these have now been resolved.
Dr Shelagh McCormick, a GP from Plymouth said: “Flu season has now started and so it’s really important that people get their flu vaccine as soon as possible to ensure they are protected against this potentially very serious illness.
No one wants to see their children suffering with flu – far from a common cold, flu can have serious consequences for young children and those with underlying medical conditions.
To reduce the risk of spreading flu, use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze, wash your hands often with warm water and soap, and bin used tissues as quickly as possible. Catch it. Bin it. Kill it.”
Current evidence shows that vaccinations available this year are well-matched to the main strain of flu circulating, so getting the nasal spray for children – offers the best possible chance of protection from the virus. But concerns remain for those who have yet to protect themselves or their children, who can spread the virus from schools and nurseries to family members even if they don’t succumb to symptoms themselves.
For most people, flu will pass within a few days with care at home – tips are available on the NHS.uk website. But, where people have concerns about themselves or their loved ones, they can use the free NHS 111 phone or online service to get advice on the best course of action.
Due to delays in vaccine delivery from the manufacturer, vaccine uptake among two-three-year olds nationally, is lagging behind previous seasons. Data up to the end of November 2019 shows, that currently 33% of two-three-year olds have received the vaccine.