Parents are being urged to book flu vaccines for their children as the biggest drive to protect the population from the illness in NHS history gets under way.
More than 1.5million emails and texts have been sent to parents of toddlers and another 1.3million letters will arrive this weekend.
The vaccine is administered in a nasal spray and is free for children up to the age of 16.
It is feared flu cases could rise 50 per cent this year after repeated lockdowns left the population vulnerable to seasonal illnesses other than Covid-19.
Around 35 million people in England are eligible for the free jab this year, with millions already booking appointments.
Flu cases could rise up to 50 per cent this year after repeated lockdowns left the population vulnerable to seasonal illnesses other than Covid-19
Those eligible include all adults over 50, people with certain long-term health conditions, pregnant women, health and social care frontline workers and carers.
Those aged 50 to 65 will receive their invitations shortly, NHS England said.
While the NHS struggles to reduce the backlog from Covid, health bosses are urging people to get their flu jab and Covid booster vaccine in advance of the winter months.
The flu jab will take the form of a nasal spray and is free for children up to the age of 16
GP and medical director of Primary Care at NHS England Dr Nikki Kanani said: ‘Every year, we vaccinate more and more staff and patients against flu, but this year it is more vital than ever that all children and eligible adults take up the offer of the free vaccine, as we head into one of the most challenging winters yet for the NHS.
‘The flu has a serious impact on the health of thousands of people every winter, and getting your child vaccinated will protect them, and help to stop the spread of the virus to your most vulnerable family members and loved ones, so I would urge everyone to book an appointment for their child with their GP practice as soon as possible.’
Health Secretary Sajid Javid got his flu jab yesterday at Keencare Pharmacy in south west London
Flu symptoms can appear very quickly and include a high temperature about 38C, aching an aching body, feeling exhausted, sore throat and runny nose and loss of appetite.
Children may also become less active and get ear pain.
Some people may be eligible for both the flu and the Covid-19 booster vaccines, with research showing if people get Covid and flu at the same time you are likely to become seriously ill.