Flu jabs could save young lives

Hundreds of frail young people suffering from diabetes, asthma and other serious conditions could be under threat from flu-related illnesses if misperception about immunisation persists, Norfolk health experts have warned.

Hundreds of frail young people suffering from diabetes, asthma and other serious conditions could be under threat from flu-related illnesses if misperception about immunisation persists, Norfolk health experts have warned.

As the government launches its winter flu campaign, paediatricians are looking to shatter a common prejudice that it is only older people who suffer the most.

According to figures released by Norfolk Primary Care Trust (PCT), only 29pc of children aged two to 16 had the vaccine last year, compared with 45pc in the elderly population.

But with diabetes and asthma cases on the increase in the county, GPs are urging all “at risk” groups, including parents of children and vulnerable youngsters to shake off their complacency and make an appointment to get the free flu jab.

Statistics show that 8pc of people in Norfolk suffer from asthma as opposed to 5.8 pc in England. Meanwhile, diabetes is thought to be on the increase in the county, with 3.8pc having the condition - 0.1 pc more than the national figure.

“It is a common misperception that it's only older people who suffer the most when they get the flu,” said Richard Reading, consultant paediatrician at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. “We need to break that prejudice and get as many people, if possible all 'at risk' groups, to understand the importance of getting the annual vaccine.”

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He added: “The flu jab can literally save lives.”

John Battersby, director of Public Health for Norfolk PCT, said it was difficult to predict how many people would book in for a flu jab this year, but insisted that GP surgeries across the county were prepared to cope with increased demand. “There are no concerns over vaccine supply this year,” he said.

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