Parents of children under five are being urged to get them a flu vaccine after a 70% jump in hospitalisations.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said an 11% fall in the uptake of the vaccine among two and three-year-olds came as flu circulated at higher levels than in previous years.
Anjali and Ben Wildblood from Bristol saw their two-year-old son Rafa become "very sick" with flu just days before he was due to have the vaccine.
The pair, who are both NHS consultants, said their concerns prompted them to take him to A&E where he was treated and sent home.
"But his condition got worse again, with a soaring temperature and exhaustion - he had no strength whatsoever and what was so extremely worrying was that he barely had the strength to breathe - every parent's worst nightmare," they said.
After returning to hospital, Rafa was admitted to a paediatric intensive care unit where he was put under general anaesthetic and intubated.
Covid restrictions have meant most young children have never encountered flu and have no natural immunity to the virus, the UKHSA said. This increased risk has coincided with the uptake of the flu vaccine among two-year-olds standing at 31% and 33% among three-year-olds.
All children under five can get vaccinated at their GP surgery.
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Source: BBC News, 30 November 2022