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Flu epidemic could be on the way this winter

Hospitals and doctors' surgeries in the South East are getting ready for a possible flu epidemic this winter. A severe outbreak has already hit Australia - and now medical experts say it could be on its way here.

And what makes the situation more worrying is that so many people - who are entitled to the flu jab - have not been immunised. Abigail Bracken reports.

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NHS flu campaign calls on parents to vaccinate children

NHS poster asking parents to vaccinate children against flu Credit: NHS South, Central and West

Buses across Oxfordshire will carry an advertising campaign encouraging parents to vaccinate their children against flu. Children up until the age of four are entitled to free flu jabs that can be administered by a GP or school nurse.

Flu can be serious for young children. Help protect them from flu with one simple nasal spray. The vaccination is free, fast and painless so don't put it off

– Dr Joe McManners, clinical chair at Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group

Flu vaccine for children aged 5 to 7

Nasal spray offered to young school children

Children aged between 5 and 7 are being offered a flu vaccination in the form of a nasal spray. 2 to 4 years olds are already offered the vaccine but now a national campaign in schools has begun for pupils in years one and two.

Parents at schools in Surrey, West Sussex and Kent are already being asked to sign their children up for the spray.

Click here for more information on the children's flu campaign

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Thousands of people taken ill with new strain of flu virus

If you've had a rough start to the New Year - coughing, sneezing and feeling ill - then you're not alone.

The number of people suffering with flu is at a four-year high, with health experts warning us that cases are likely to keep on rising for weeks to come. Thousands of people in the Meridian region are affected.

Doctors at Southampton General say a strain of the virus - immune from this year's winter flu jab - is to blame for a huge increase in the number of patients being admitted to hospital.

They say the A-H3 strain has changed - or mutated - since the vaccine was made - making it much less effective. Richard Slee reports.

Anyone with flu-like symptoms can find information here.

Parents urged to vaccinate children against flu virus

Parents of young children across our region are being urged to get them vaccinated against flu.

This year, all two to four year olds are being offered a nasal spray to protect them against the virus. Flu is a potentially serious illness and, in extreme cases, can even kill.

But only around half of those most at risk take up the vaccinations. Malcolm Shaw has our report and speaks to Dr Laura Marshall-Andrews.

'Consider the flu vaccination'

A mother who almost died after catching flu, is urging people to have the flu vaccination. Louise Lyle was admitted to hospital just before Christmas 3 years ago and ended up in a coma.

Those in certain risk groups can get the flu jab for free, so Louise wants people make sure they have it - and for others to consider paying for one. Charlotte Grant's been to meet Louise and her husband to hear their story.

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