Watch back our winter illnesses Ask the Expert Q&A

3 mins read

Tuesday 10 January 2023

Tags: Strep A, Flu immunisation, preventing winter illnesses

Getting your disabled child vaccinated against flu is the single best thing you can do to protect them from getting very unwell, including from Strep A infection.

That’s according to a leading children’s respiratory doctor who led our Ask the Expert Q&A session on winter illnesses, which is now available to watch on our Facebook page and on our YouTube channel.

Why your child should get the flu vaccine

Dr Martin Samuels is a consultant respiratory paediatrician at Great Ormond Street Hospital who also works at University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust.

Dr Samuels spent more than an hour answering parent carers’ questions during the Q&A session, which focused on what to do if your disabled child catches flu or is sick with chest infections.

In it, he warned that flu alone is making a lot of children very, very ill this winter:

While the vaccine may not stop them getting other viruses or bacterial infections, there’s some evidence that if you child has flu immunisation it reduces the risk for Group A Strep ‘kicking in’ afterwards.

Dr Martin Samuels

The risks of Strep A

Dr Samuels said disabled children are not necessarily more at risk of catching Group A Strep. But some children who struggle to clear their airways have low muscle tone, and these children could be susceptible to getting sicker from the bacterial infection.  

It is common for Group A Strep to cause chest infections like bronchitis. But in more serious cases, it can also cause meningitis, brain abscesses and bone infections.

Dr Samuels added: “Viruses like flu make you more prone to bacterial infections like Group A Strep. They cause inflammation in the body, and Group A Strep can get in and cause more significant infections.”

He strongly recommended that all children between two and 16 should have the flu vaccination, and that it needs to be done every single year because the strains change annually.

Other topics covered in the session

Dr Samuels answered parents’ questions on everything from administering antibiotics and vitamin supplements to caring for tube-fed children with chest infections.

Key topics covered in the Facebook Live Q&A included:

  • Spotting the signs of Group A Strep infection.
  • Knowing when to seek medical advice.
  • Tips for clearing your child’s blocked nose and easing coughs.
  • When to send your child back to school safely.
  • Giving antibiotic pills to your child when liquid suspensions are unavailable.
  • Caring for children with immune deficiencies who get a chest infection.
  • How to improve a child’s immunity.
  • The effects of cold air and exercise on breathing.

More than 2,300 parents have so far watched our Facebook Live Q&A, with many viewers commenting that Dr Samuels’ advice throughout the session was incredibly helpful.

“Thank you so much for this session, I feel much better and less anxious about sending my son to school. Much appreciated.”

Parent carer

You can watch back Dr Samuel’s Q&A session on Facebook or YouTube.

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