Luton-based Astra Zeneca launches campaign for children to be vaccinated against flu threat

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'Share Good Times Not Flu' is backed by prominent doctors

Parents are being urged to get their children vaccinated against flu, as fears grow the country could be hit by an epidemic after the pandemic cut flu transmission in the community.

Pharmaceutical giants Astra Zeneca, which has an office at Horizon Place in Luton, has launched a Share Good Times Not Flu campaign, backed by prominent doctors.

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Dr Ranj Singh, Dr Philippa Kaye, Dr Nighat Arif, Dr Punam Krishan and Dr Stephanie Jen Chyi Ooi are calling for eligible children to get the free nasal spray flu vaccine as soon as it is offered through schools or GPs. If the nasal spray is not suitable for a child, an alternative flu vaccine should be offered.

Children need protecting against flu threat say doctorsChildren need protecting against flu threat say doctors
Children need protecting against flu threat say doctors

The call comes as new COMRES data commissioned by AstraZeneca shows that only 64% of parents plan to get their children vaccinated against flu this year.

While this would mean an increase in childhood flu vaccination uptake compared to the 61% vaccination rate of last year, it would still be short of the Government’s ambition to immunise 70% of eligible children against flu in 2021/22.

The doctors have produced a video on five reasons why all eligible children should get vaccinated against flu.

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Dr Ranj Singh said: “This winter flu has the potential to be more difficult to handle compared to previous years due to the impact of the ongoing pandemic, putting pressure on NHS services. So, we’re urging parents and carers to get their child vaccinated against flu.

“Getting your child vaccinated against flu will help protect your child and reduce transmission of flu to others and, therefore, protect you, your family and friends.

“There is no injection needed in the majority of cases – the nasal spray flu vaccine is just a squirt up each nostril. It has been given to millions of children worldwide and most side effects are mild in nature and short term.”

Respiratory illness, such as flu, are expected to hit very high levels of infection this winter, causing severe strain on the NHS and potentially between 15,000 and 60,000 deaths.

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Reduced levels of immunity to flu are expected because of drastically lower cases of the virus last season leaving more people vulnerable to infection this season.

Dr Philippa Kaye said: “Flu is not the common cold. It is a respiratory infection that can have serious complications.

“Unfortunately, we can’t tell which children will get really sick, and which ones won’t with the flu. So, give your child good protection against the disease and get them vaccinated against flu as soon as they are invited by their school or GP.

“Having the flu vaccine strengthens the immune system, training it to fight the flu – you don’t need to catch it naturally with all the risks that come with a flu infection when you can have the vaccine instead.”

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