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UK Health Security Agency issues advice as cases of Strep A and flu increase

Flu vaccinations for two and three-year-olds

Following an increase in cases of scarlet fever and invasive Group A Strep (iGAS) in children as well as hospitalisations with flu for under fives – the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has issued guidance to parents.

Scarlet fever

Scarlet fever is a common childhood infection caused by Group A Strep (GAS). It is not usually serious but should be treated with antibiotics to reduce the risk of complications and spread to others. 

Symptoms include a sore throat, headache, fever, nausea and vomiting. After 12 to 48 hours the red rash develops, usually on starting on the stomach and chest before spreading to other parts of the body.

If you think your child may have scarlet fever:

  • contact your GP surgery or call 111 as soon as possible
  • make sure your child takes the full course of antibiotics prescribed, even if they start to feel better during the course
  • stay at home, away from nursery, school or work for at least 24 hours after starting antibiotic treatment to avoid spreading the infection.

Invasive Group A Strep (iGAS)

If the bacteria causing scarlet fever enters the bloodstream, this can cause invasive Group A Strep. Although very uncommon, there has also been an increase in cases recently. 

Contact your GP or call 111 if your child:

  • is not recovering from scarlet fever
  • is eating less than normal
  • has had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more or shows other signs of dehydration
  • is under 3 months and has a temperature of 38C, or is older than 3 months and has a temperature of 39C or higher
  • feels hotter than usual when you touch their back or chest, or feels sweaty
  • is very tired or irritable.

Call 999 or go to A&E if:

  • your child is having difficulty breathing
  • your child’s skin, tongue or lips are blue
  • your child is floppy and will not wake up or stay awake.

More information on scarlet fever is available on the NHS website

Flu – vaccinations for 2-3 year olds

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is strongly urging parents to get their young children vaccinated against flu to avoid serious illness.

GP surgeries are inviting children aged two to three years old (age on 31 August 2022) for the nasal spray or injection vaccine at their practices.

There are also walk-in vaccination clinics offering nasal spray and injection vaccines for two- to three-year-olds in Bristol at the Malcolm X Centre, 141 City Road, St Paul’s, Bristol BS2 8YH on Sunday December 11 and 18 from 9.30am to 4pm.

All primary school children and some secondary school children are also eligible for the flu nasal spray this year, which is usually given at school.

More information about flu is available on the NHS website. If you’re worried about your baby or child’s symptoms, call 111.

Useful links:

Walk-in vaccine clinics: https://bnssghealthiertogether.org.uk/covid-flu-vaccination/flu/childrens-flu-vaccine/

NHS information about flu: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/flu/

Child’s flu vaccine: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/child-flu-vaccine/