Many children in England are not being immunised against flu, despite being eligible for the vaccination on the NHS.
Nearly two thirds (62%) of kids aged between two and four years old were not taken to their GP to get the flu vaccine last winter, and a further 44% of primary school aged children are also missing out, according to recent figures released by Public Health England.
Doctor and TV presenter Ranj Singh believes part of the reason is because parents are still hesitant about vaccines.
“Parents should feel confident about the vaccines currently in use,” he told HuffPost UK.
A survey by AstraZeneca (who produce the nasal flu vaccine for the NHS) found that two in five parents have experienced a child becoming infected with flu and then spreading the illness to other family members, which results in lost hours of work and school, plus as much as £100 a week or more per child wasted on unused childcare.
Dr Singh believes that while the lack of uptake can be partially attributed to our busy lives and the additional organisation or admin involved, there is also a societal hesitance about vaccinations..
″We see this rolling out every year, that parents are a little hesitant about it,” he said.
“Naturally everyone who has some medical intervention is worried about potential side effects.
“And with the connotations around other types of vaccines that have been reported in the media - a lot of which was not accurate - hesitance does still exist.
“The vaccines have been used around the world for a long time, with lots of experience and success.
“Vaccinating eligible children is the best tool we have to protect our kids and families from flu.”
So how much do you know about the flu vaccine?
Are All Children Eligible For A Free Flu Vaccine?
In the autumn/winter period of 2017 to 2018, the flu vaccine will be available for free on the NHS for children aged two and three on August 31 2017 (that is, children born between 1 September 2013 and 31 August 2015). As well as children in reception class and school years one, two, three and four.
It will also be available for children aged two to 17-years-old who have long-term health conditions.
In some parts of the UK (those following the pilot scheme), all primary school-aged children will be offered the vaccine.
Over the next few years the programme will gradually be extended to include older children.
How Is The Flu Vaccine Given To Children?
Many parents might be apprehensive about taking their child to have a needle stuck in their arm, but there’s no need to fret - the flu vaccine is given as a single spray squirted up each nostril. Not only is it needle-free but it is painless, and quick.
The NHS says it “works even better than the injected flu vaccine”, and will still work even if your child develops a runny nose, sneezes or blows their nose.
Dr Ranj is supporting the Share Good Times Not Flu campaign.