Health bosses in Greater Manchester are urging parents and guardians to protect their children against flu after a sharp rise in outbreaks of respiratory illness.

These types of outbreaks, many of which have been in care homes across the city region, are usually a firm indicator that flu has arrived.

Dr Nikolaos Papadopoulos runs an asthma clinic at Manchester Children’s Hospital. He says that children are particular ‘super spreaders’ of flu, passing it easily to their families and into the wider community.

“But evidence has proved that having children vaccinated against flu with a simple nasal spray is the key to stopping the spread of the virus further and faster.”

He added: “I’ve seen countless young children poorly with flu, and while most bounce back pretty quickly it does present serious risk for a few.

“I would urge parents to take their little ones to have their flu vaccination. Why let young children suffer and even allow the risk for serious complications, when one simple spray in the nose can painlessly protect them.”

Dr Graham Wardman, Consultant in Screening and Immunisation at Greater Manchester Health & Social Care Partnership, said: “Latest figures show that so far this year over 15,000 children in Greater Manchester aged two and three have taken up the offer of a free nasal flu vaccination. To really make an impact we need many, many more to come forward.”

Greater Manchester has one million flu vaccinations on offer to all children aged from two up to school year four, people aged 65 and over, people aged 6 months to under 65 years of age with long-term health conditions, pregnant women, carers and people who are very overweight (BMI over 45) .

In most cases children aged two and three receive their vaccine through a nasal spray administered at their GP surgery. Children from reception class to school year four are offered a nasal vaccination at school which parents give permission for.

Practice nurse at the Hopwood House Surgery in Oldham, Irene Shepherd is seeing a steady stream of parents with children aged two and three come forward to have their nasal flu vaccination.

“We would like to see more, as well as those other people who are eligible for a free vaccination, come in. Regardless of where you live in Greater Manchester it’s just a case of popping along to a drop-in session or picking up the phone and booking an appointment.

“We, and GP surgeries across Greater Manchester, have plenty of vaccinations ready to go. It’s certainly never too late to protect your family or you from flu.”

“I’d encourage all parents of young children to attend their local surgery and receive their flu vaccine as soon as possible. By protecting your children, and in turn your wider family and local community, we can all stay healthy and happy this winter.”

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