Thousands of Kent toddlers have not been given a flu vaccine, despite being eligible for a free painless vaccination.

Only 8,000 toddlers have had the quick procedure, which means there are an astonishing 27,000 not protected against flu.

Flu can be a very unpleasant illness in children causing fever, stuffy nose dry cough, sore throat, aching muscles and joints and extreme tiredness.

Some children can get a very high fever, sometimes without the usual flu symptoms, and may need to go to hospital for treatment.

Serious complications of flu include a painful ear infection, acute bronchitis and pneumonia.

John Rodriguez, Public Health Screening and Immunisation lead for Kent and Medway said: “It is important we protect young children from the flu virus and get them vaccinated now.

Children can become very poorly if they catch flu and we know this can affect the wider family as parents or carers may have to take time off work to look after them.

The nasal spray is safe and tailored each year to specific flu viruses – so please to take up this free NHS offer.

“Protecting your child can stop flu spreading to other children and the family, especially babies and grandparents, who may be at higher risk from flu.”

Flu vaccines are being offered to children aged two and three, as well as pupils in reception, year’s one two and three.

Toddlers can be taken to their GP for the free nasal spray.