THERE is concern abut the low uptake of the flu vaccine for children aged between two and three in west Wales.

Hywel Dda University Health Board has become concerned that less than a quarter of two- and three-year-olds in its health board area – the counties of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire – have had the nasal flu vaccine, which is below the national average.

The health board is concerned that with the low uptake, this could see more young children at risk of hospitalisation this winter. Last year in Wales, flu was the main reason that around 800 children aged between two and 16 were admitted to hospital.

Public health officials are concerned that children who did not encounter the flu virus between 2020-22 due to the coronavirus restrictions, could be particularly vulnerable to flu.

There is, however, a positive uptake in children aged four and over as they are offered it through the school nursing team. The team is still visiting schools right up until the Christmas break and it is expected that there will be a good uptake amongst eligible children. So far, more than six in ten primary school children and more than half of secondary school children have taken up the offer.

Dr Ardiana Gjini, the health board’s executive director of public health, said: “The positive uptake in schools shows that many parents recognise the importance of the annual nasal flu vaccine and are happy to consent to their child receiving it.

“We understand parents are incredibly busy and are often juggling work, childcare and other demands on their time and you may have received an invitation from your GP and could not make the appointment.

“With Christmas fast approaching, we’re strongly encouraging parents to contact their GP practice to arrange that their toddler (2- and 3-year-olds) get their nasal spray flu vaccine without a delay.

“Vaccination protects your child from complications of flu, and reduces the chance of children and young people spreading flu to others. Children who have recently had influenza can also develop a more serious infection during an outbreak of scarlet fever.

“By vaccinating your children, you will protect your loved ones at high risk from flu, such as young babies, grandparents, and those with long-term health conditions. Essential before family gatherings and events throughout December.”

Parents wishing to have their 2- or 3-year-old’s vaccination should contact their GP practice to rebook. If their nasal flu vaccination sessions have come to an end, contact the health board on or by calling 0300 3038322.

The school nursing team will be visiting schools to deliver the nasal flu vaccine until the Christmas break and will schedule mop-up sessions for children who were absent or unwell during their first visit.