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Don’t put off the flu vaccination – protect yourself and others this winter

It’s that time of year when we start to share those cold and flu viruses amongst our family, friends and colleagues and it’s important that those most at risk protect themselves and others by getting the flu vaccination.

North East Lincolnshire CCG and North East Lincolnshire Council are urging people to see their GP and do the one simple thing to avoid serious health problems this winter and get their flu vaccination, which is free for those people most at risk who need it. 

The free flu vaccine is offered by GPs and pharmacists and provides the best protection against the unpredictable nature of the flu virus although people will need to be vaccinated every year to combat the change in flu strains. Having the vaccination is particularly important for those vulnerable groups who are more at risk from the effects of flu, these include people aged 65 and over, pregnant women and those with long term health conditions.

Flu is a highly infectious disease and can lead to serious complications if you have a long term health condition such as COPD, bronchitis, diabetes, epilepsy or heart, kidney or liver disease or have suffered a stroke. Having flu on top of these health conditions can result in serious ill health and a trip to hospital. People with these and other long-term health conditions are eligible for a free flu jab.

Pregnant women, people aged 65 and over and children aged 2 and 3 as well as school children (from reception class through to year 4) are also eligible for the free flu vaccine.

Pregnant women who get the flu may be less able to fight off infection as during pregnancy the body’s immune system is weakened and puts both mother and baby at higher risk of serious complications.  The flu jab is the safest way to protect against this and can be given at any stage of pregnancy.

The children’s flu vaccine is offered as a quick nasal spray to protect them as the flu virus can be horrible for little children, and they may develop a high fever and complications and they can easily spread it around the whole family. If you have a child aged 2 or 3, then see your GP and get them vaccinated with the nasal spray.  School children will get theirs administered through the school.

Dr Peter Melton, GP and Clinical Chief Officer for the CCG, explained, “Flu can be extremely serious for the young and the older generation and it poses high risks for pregnant women and people with long term health conditions. We must stress how important it is and urge these people to see their GP as soon as they can and have their free flu vaccine to protect not only themselves but also those around them, as the vaccination is the best protection against the flu virus.”

“If you are eligible for the flu vaccine please don’t take the risk, contact your GP or pharmacist and protect yourself and others this winter.”

Geoff Barnes, Deputy Director of Public Health, said: “In 2016 almost 70% of over 65s protected themselves by receiving the flu vaccination from their GP.  However only 48 per cent of people aged under 65 with underlying health conditions got the jab, leaving a significant number of vulnerable people open to the different strains of flu.

“The flu vaccine is the best way people can protect themselves from the virus. Those considered ‘at risk’ – which includes older people, young children, people with disabilities, people with long term conditions and pregnant women - should take up the offer of free vaccination from their GP, nurse or one of the pharmacies that are taking part in the scheme as soon as it becomes available every year.”

The flu vaccination is part of the Stay Well This Winter campaign, a joint initiative from NHS England and Public Health England, to help the public ward off common winter illnesses.

For more information please visit www.nhs.uk/staywell

To find out more about the symptoms of flu and how to get the vaccine, visit

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/flu/Pages/Introduction.aspx

ENDS

Notes to Editors

People eligible for the flu vaccination:

  • Those aged 65 and over
  • People aged 6 months to 65 with the following conditions:
    (long-term) respiratory disease, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or bronchitis
  • Emphysema
  • Heart disease, such as heart failure
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease, such as hepatitis
  • Neurological conditions, such as Parkinson's disease or Motor Neurone disease (MND)
  • Diabetes
  • People who are carers for someone at home
  • Pregnant women
  • All children aged 2 and 3, (born between 1st September 2013 and 31st August 2015) plus any child under the age of 18 in the at risk group receive nasal flu vaccine in surgery.
  • School-aged children from reception class through to year 4 (born before 1st September 2013 aged 4 – 8 years old) are being offered the nasal flu vaccine in schools.
  • Those in long-stay residential care homes
  • Those who work with vulnerable groups like care home staff, social workers, health visitors, children centre staff, midwives, doctors and nurses (through workplace/employer)

For further information contact the North East Lincolnshire CCG Communications Team on 03300 249301.

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