Only one in three pregnant women and young children in Nottingham took up the offer a free flu jab last winter – leading to concerns some families are putting themselves at unnecessary risk.
Between September 2015 and January 2016 only 34.8 per cent of expectant women who are registered with a GP in the city booked in for a free jab.
This is well below the national average of 42.3 per cent and the regional average of 41.4 per cent.
Meanwhile 32.2 per cent of two to four-year-olds the city registered for a vaccination, again below the national average of 34.4 per cent and regional average of 40 per cent.
The figures lead to appeals for families to increase the take-up in free vaccinations this year.
Doctors remain concerned by the low usage as influenza can lead to lethal respiratory problems – particularly in the old, very young and those with underlying conditions.
And flu can cause serious complications for a pregnant woman and her baby, while children are most likely to spread flu to others.
The Stay Well This Winter campaign launched on Wednesday – which includes a vaccination programme extended to those children in year 3 at school – an overall increase of about 600,000.
Councillor Alex Norris, portfolio holder for health at Nottingham City Council, said: “A large number of people view flu as simply a ‘bad cold’.
“They are completely unaware of the risks, and potentially serious consequences, of catching it – particularly among vulnerable groups.
“Here in Nottingham, we are aware that we need to increase the number of pregnant women and pre-school children receiving the vaccination.”
An annual flu vaccine nasal spray will now be offered to children aged two, three and four year olds, and to pupils in year 1 and year 2.
Additionally pregnant women, anyone over 65, anyone who is very overweight, children and adults with weakened immune systems or an underlying health condition can get a flu jab.
Mother-of-two Sarah Quilty, who has asthma, had her flu jab last week and will be ensuring her six-year-old daughter, Phaedra, and four-year-old son, Balthazar – who both attend Willow Farm Primary School – get vaccinated.
Ms Quilty, of Gedling, said: “If my children get flu, they could miss a week of school, and a week at school is a lot of education as well as the social side that school brings.
“[The figures] concern me because the information really isn’t out there, and it’s only now that the information’s being pushed nationally.
“Hopefully the campaign will increase awareness and more parents will take their children to get vaccinated.”
It is important to get vaccinated every year
Public Health England estimates several million people get flu each winter, which led to more than 2,000 NHS intensive care admissions across the UK last year.
Influenza is also linked to thousands of deaths a year as an underlying cause or contributory factor.
“It is important to get vaccinated every year. Flu is unpredictable and previous years’ vaccinations may not protect you against the types of flu virus circulating this year.”