Most 'at-risk babies' have not had flu jab
MORE than 70 per cent of babies and toddlers classed as at-risk in the Bristol area have not been vaccinated against flu.
Health experts are now urging parents to ensure that children with underlying health conditions are protected against the potentially life-threatening disease as infection rates rise.
NHS figures show that among under-twos identified by GPs as needing the jab because of underlying health conditions, just 22.5 per cent in Bristol have been given it. In South Gloucestershire just 31.2 per cent of youngsters aged six months to two years with chronic illnesses, such as asthma, kidney disease and heart disease, had the jab and in North Somerset 34.5 per cent.
Figures for children aged two to 16 were slightly higher, with a 37 per cent uptake among those with health conditions in Bristol, 42.3 per cent in North Somerset and 47.8 per cent in South Gloucestershire.
This week's delicious £5 5 O'CLOCKTAIL is a refreshing Tequila Sunrise. Available everyday from our Bar for only £5 between 5pm & 7pm.
Terms: £5 cocktail applies to the cocktail of the week.
Contact: 0117 2448281
Valid until: Monday, May 27 2013
The Health Protection Agency has confirmed that there has been an increase in cases this winter.
Becky Pollard, NHS North Somerset director of public health, said: "It is very risky for anyone with a chronic condition not to have a flu jab. But we are particularly concerned about the number of young people under-16 with chronic conditions who have not had the jab, as this group will include babies and very young children. As well as contracting flu and possibly putting their lives at risk, illness in children has other effects, such as parents requiring time off work to look after them, and lost days at school."
She is also concerned that about 50 per cent of all people in the at-risk category across the Bristol have not yet had flu jabs this winter.
"It is still not too late to get the flu jab, which will remain available until March 31," said Ms Pollard.
"The virus circulates until end of winter. People can carry the flu virus without becoming ill themselves. So just because no one around you has had flu, does not mean you are protected, especially if you or your child have a chronic condition."
Ms Pollard advised anyone in a risk group who still needed a jab to contact their surgery.
"The flu season officially ends on 31 January but it is vitally important to ensure anyone who needs the jab is protected prior to this," she said.
Dr Richard Peabody, head of seasonal flu surveillance at the HPA, confirmed last week that the UK was continuing to see an increase in flu cases.
"Vaccination against flu is still the most effective way of preventing the virus in people who are in an 'at risk' group, as they are more vulnerable to developing complications from flu," he said.
"This includes people with underlying conditions such as heart problems, diabetes, lung, liver or renal diseases and those with weakened immune systems, as well as older people and pregnant women."