The public is urged to get children vaccinated as Halton, Warrington and St Helens are dealing with an increase in the number of schools reporting flu like illnesses.

Thirty schools across the three council areas have reported outbreaks of flu like illness, and several have been confirmed as outbreaks of Influenza A.

Some schools have reported high pupil absence rates with up to 40 per cent of the pupils absent.

Children who are poorly are advised to stay home until their symptoms have resolved to prevent further spread of flu within the school.

Flu is unpleasant and can make a child poorly for around a week, most children will recover after a few days of rest, hydration and paracetamol when needed.

However flu can be particularly dangerous for people with other underlying health conditions, and can result in more serious complications such as chest and ear infections, pneumonia and even death.

Currently all primary school children in reception up to year six, in England, are offered the free flu vaccine as a painless nasal spray.

Many school children have had the vaccine already, though some schools may not have had their vaccine yet due to delays in the national vaccine supply chain.

Sarah Johnson Griffiths, Consultant in Public Health, Halton Borough Council, said: “It is important that you protect your child by saying yes to the vaccine. It will not only help to stop your child getting the flu, it will help stop the spread of the virus to more vulnerable people, such as grandparents or people with long term health conditions.

“If you have missed the vaccination in your school, please get in touch with your school nurses as catch up sessions may be available locally.

“We are seeing an unusual number of outbreaks with flu like symptoms in our schools. It is important that any child who is poorly stays off school to help stop the spread of the virus. If your child is particularly poorly you can call your local GP, or NHS 111, for advice..”

Flu can be prevented. Good hand hygiene, and using a tissue and then throwing it away is helpful. But the best way to stop flu is through the vaccine.

Many people can get the vaccine for free including primary aged children, but also children aged two and three, pregnant women, people over 65 and anyone with a relevant long-term condition can get the vaccine for free, as your GP or local pharmacy.

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