It’s the cold and flu season now, and already it seems that some pretty horrendous colds are going round, and hanging round for some length of time. And this time of year also brings the flu vaccination programmes with it.
I’ve never needed a flu jab, never had flu, but this season after having a 3 week cold already, I’m planning to get one just to see if that helps prevent any other winter lurgies hitting me.
N’s recently been for his flu immunisation appointment. The NHS are running a programme whereby all 2 and 3 year olds are offered a flu vaccination, via a nasal spray. For older children up to final primary school year, whether they are offered it is dependent on the geographic areas which are in the pilot. The aim is to role this out to all children over time.
What has got me about this programme is how inconsistent the communication is about it.
Talking to my online mum friends all over the UK, some people heard about it early on in September. As so many of us hadn’t heard anything, we presumed it was all geographically based.
Then I received our invitation to come for the flu spray from our surgery and it was really clear. All children of 2 and 3 should be offered it. We also had a leaflet (drives me mad why they send these out, when they could just add a web link to the letter) which explained everything really clearly. Basically it was an opt out – you had to send in the tear off part stating you didn’t want your child to have the spray, but otherwise expected that all would have it where suitable for the child.
By this stage it was mid-October, and surely by now you’d expect that all parents would have been invited by that stage?
No, there’re still inconsistencies. Even within our area, rural and town, there was a real mix within my friends. Some had had a call, some had letters, some had nothing. I also know of people who’ve phoned to request it to avoid missing out, and have been told it’s only high risk children….er no, that’s not what the website says, not what the radio ad I heard said, and definitely not what the NHS leaflet said.
It’s madness, that for a national programme, parents are being told different facts, or nothing. For what is effectively a 2 minute appointment if that and no trauma for the child. A quick spritz in both nostrils, we had no side effects afterwards. Yes, let parents make the choice, but you have to tell them about it.
No wonder there’re so many concerns whenever there’s an vaccination programme in place with parents unsure about what they should be doing, what’s available, whether there are other options or not. A standard communication for all should be available through all channels, GPs, childcare, children’s centres etc so that all parents have a way of accessing the information.
What’s been your experience of the flu immunisation programme?
Edit: Have now heard a classic. One surgery in our town only has one day for flu clinic (presumably for children). Errr, parents who work, and can’t take time off for the one day opportunity, the 1 minute (if that) appointment. How is one day of clinic going to get through all the potential 2 and 3 year olds who go to that surgery! Madness.