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Stay healthy and well this winter and get a flu jab

Winter is on its way and it's time to think about flu, how to avoid it, and how to look after yourself if you get it.

People aged over 65 and those with existing health conditions are offered free flu jabs by their GP practice, and this year parents of young children are being encouraged to get their children inoculated too.

Children aged two, three and four can get a simple free nasal spray from their GP and in Lambeth children in years one and two in local primary schools are being offered it too.

Adrian McLachlan, a local GP and Chair of Lambeth Clinical Commissioning Group, said flu can be dangerous for young children.

"If you have children aged two, three or four, or in school years one and two, don't put off taking up their free flu vaccination," he said.

"The nasal spray vaccination is a quick, painless and effective way for children to be protected without the need for injections.

"Flu can be a very unpleasant illness in children as they suffer the same symptoms as adults including fever, chills and aching muscles.

"The flu vaccination will help protect your child from flu and also reduce the chance of flu spreading to others.

"Anyone over the age of 65 or with an existing health problem should also make sure they get the flu jab as flu can make the effects of existing conditions worse and complications like pneumonia more likely."

Parents of children aged two, three or four should speak to their GP practice about getting the nasal spray vaccination for their child. The nasal spray vaccine is not licensed for children aged under two years. However, if the extended programme in primary schools reduces the spread of flu, young children will benefit from the reduced risk of being exposed to older children with flu.

There is evidence that the primary school flu pilots last year had a positive impact on transmission of flu in the wider community.

For more information about the nasal spray vaccination and the flu jab visit www.nhs.uk/staywell. Anyone who is not entitled to a free flu jab can obtain one for a small charge from their local pharmacy.

Dr McLachlan added: "If you are unlucky enough to get flu, make sure you drink plenty of fluids, take cold and flu remedies which will help with the fever and symptoms, and get plenty of rest. If concerned, consult your local pharmacist or call NHS 111."

Lambeth Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is supporting this year's Stay Well This Winter campaign, led by NHS England and Public Health England, which encourages anyone eligible for a free flu jab to get vaccinated. Look out for adverts on TV, radio and in newspapers, and posters at your GP practice and on the streets.