HAMPSHIRE parents are being urged to vaccinate their children against flu this winter.

Consultant from Public Health, Clare Simpson, is calling on parents in the county to make sure they have vaccinated their children against flu.

This year, for the first time, all primary school children, as well two- and three-year-olds, are offered the nasal spray on the NHS.

Clare said: “We know that many parents are great at taking up the offer of a flu vaccine for their children, but this year in Hampshire and Isle of Wight we want to do even better.

"Last year uptake improved for two- and three-year-olds, but if all eligible children are vaccinated this year we could significantly reduce the number of people getting flu in the wider community.

“The flu season is already under way and it is a serious illness that can be deadly for the most vulnerable.

"Children are ‘super spreaders’, but the vaccination not only protects them but also more vulnerable members of the community, such as the elderly or those with health conditions, from a potentially horrible illness.

“This year, all two- and three-year-olds and every primary school child will be offered it.

"So, please fill in the consent form for your primary school-aged children or contact your GP surgery if you have a two or three-year-old.”

Children of all ages with a health condition that put them at greater risk of flu, like asthma, are also eligible for the vaccine.

The child-friendly nasal spray, delivers a simple squirt into each nostril, making administration to this age group quick and easy.

Clare added: “Flu can be a very unpleasant illness in children causing fever, a stuffy nose, dry cough, sore throat, aching muscles and joints, and extreme tiredness.

"This can often last several days.

"Some children can get a very high fever, sometimes without the usual flu symptoms, and may need to go to hospital for treatment. Serious complications of flu include a painful ear infection, acute bronchitis, and pneumonia.”

The flu vaccine provides protection against the strains of flu that are likely to circulate this year, and which may be different from last year.