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Too few children vaccinated against flu

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Too few children vaccinated against flu Too few children vaccinated against flu

The figures show that less than one third of children younger than four have been vaccinated against influenza this winter.

As of October 31, 17.3 per of two-year-olds had received the flu vaccine, while the uptake rate for three-year-olds is currently 18.7 per cent. Among four-year-olds, uptake stands at 14.1 per cent.

This year is the first in which four-year-olds have been offered the nasal spray vaccination, with an estimated two million pre-schoolers now eligible. The DH has said that if half of all children were vaccinated, it could prevent approximately 500,000 cases of flu.

In total, 238,746 children under four were vaccinated in 2014, out of 1,412,119 registered with GPs, compared with 341,313 vaccinations in 2013. The number of children vaccinated has fallen by nearly a third, despite the introduction of four-year-olds into the programme.

PHE warned about the impact influenza can have on the 15 million people in the UK with a long-term health condition, such as COPD and cardiovascular disease. They estimate that someone is 11 times more likely to die of flu if they have a long-term condition.

The announcement has provoked concern in the medical establishment. England's chief medical officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, said: 'Flu can be really nasty for toddlers, leading to time off nursery which has a big impact on mums and dads and sometimes even a stay in hospital. They also spread the virus easily and often pass flu to grandparents and other relatives who can become very ill, fast. Giving two, three and four-year-olds the free nasal spray really is in everyone's interests if you want to help avoid a miserable winter for all the family.'

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