The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) have spoken out about the “essential’ need to promote the benefits of flu vaccinations in young children.
Data released by Public Health England (PHE) shows that only 28.5% of two-year-olds, 30.5% of three-year-olds and 23.9% of four-year-olds were vaccinated against the condition.
These figures show a significant drop in the number of children vaccinated during the same period last year, when immunisation was first routinely provided.
Public Health England has called for more promotion of immunisation for young children saying that they were “super-spreaders.” Stopping flu in children could have added benefits of protecting their parents and grandparents.
Dr George Kassianos, RCGP immunisation lead, said: “Flu is a highly infectious disease and children spread it more easily as they tend to have more physical contact with others, both of their own age and older family members.
“If we reduce the risk of young children catching the flu we will make it less likely that vulnerable adults, such as pregnant women and older people, will be affected and reduce their risk of developing complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia from the virus.
“This is a convenient and extremely effective vaccine that is available free to at-risk groups, including carers. It is essential that we increase public awareness so that we can better control the spread of the flu virus and even save lives.”
Last winter was a relatively mild flu season, but despite this health agencies have already warned against complacency concerning the immunization of children against flu.
Kassianos said: “Flu can have potentially serious consequences and young children.”