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Flu – Are you protected this winter?

North East Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group (NELCCG) is reminding people in ‘at risk’ groups to make sure that they have their free, seasonal flu jab if they haven’t already done so.

A flu vaccine is available free on the NHS for:
• pregnant women*
• children aged two to four
• children aged 6 months - 18 years with a long-term health condition (as an injection for children aged 6 months to 2 years; as a nasal spray for children aged 2 to 18 years)
• adults aged 65 or older*
• people with a serious medical condition*
• healthcare workers or carers*
• people living in a residential or nursing home

Dr Peter Melton, Chief Clinical Officer and GP said: “Older people, pregnant women, young children and people with on-going health conditions are considered more vulnerable to the effects of the flu virus and are therefore more likely to become seriously ill, develop complications or require hospital admission if they catch it.

“Carers are also an important group to protect, as they look after some of the most vulnerable people in our community. In order to protect themselves and those they care for, it’s vital that they come forward and take up the offer of vaccination too.”

Dr Rakesh Pathak, Clinical Lead for Unplanned Care at the CCG and GP added: “It is important to get protected before winter-related, influenza infections begin to circulate so we would encourage all those who fall into one of the at risk groups to contact their GP surgery to book their appointment as soon as possible.

“The vaccine is very safe. Despite popular belief, the flu vaccine cannot give you flu as it doesn't contain the active virus needed to do this.  And the nasal spray vaccine for children removes any concerns about having an injection.

“Studies have shown that the flu vaccination definitely works and will help prevent vulnerable people from getting the flu.

“However, over time, protection from the flu vaccine gradually decreases. Also flu strains often change. New flu vaccines are produced each year to tackle this which is why people at risk need to make sure they have the vaccine every year to keep themselves protected. So if you are eligible for a free jab, don’t put it off, get it now. It’s free because you need it.”

Many practices will have organised special flu vaccination clinics. Details of when these are and how to book can often be found on practices’ web sites.

A number of pharmacies in North East Lincolnshire also offer the NHS flu vaccination free of charge for some at risk groups*. Visit www.northeastlincolnshireccg.nhs.uk for more information.

More information about seasonal flu and eligibility for the vaccination can be found at www.nhs.uk/conditions/flu

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