It’s not too early to plan for winter - protect against the flu

With autumn well underway, residents in North East Lincolnshire are encouraged to get the flu vaccine to protect themselves and others against the virus.

Vaccines are available from GP surgeries and local pharmacies. It is important to get the flu vaccine every year to protect against the different strains of the virus.

The flu vaccine is offered free on the NHS for people who are at risk, including vulnerable and elderly people and children.

People working with elderly or vulnerable people such as health and social care staff, social workers and teaching staff should also get the flu vaccine to protect themselves, family, friends and the people they work with.

Cold weather can be harmful to health, especially for those who are high risk. The vaccine offers the best protection against the unpredictable virus. People with flu are approximately 11 times more like to die if they have an underlying health condition. 

Flu is an unpleasant illness, though if you are healthy, it is not serious and you will usually recover within a week or two. However, for some, catching flu increases the risk of potentially serious complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia.

The flu vaccine is offered free on the NHS to those at risk:

  • People aged 65 years old and over
  • Pregnant women
  • People aged from six months to 65 years old who have a serious medical condition (check with your pharmacist of GP to see if you are eligible)
  • People living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility
  • People who receive a carer’s allowance or are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill
  • Health and social care staff employed by a registered residential care/nursing home or registered domiciliary care provider, who are directly involved in the care of vulnerable patients/clients

This year the flu vaccine, in the form of a nasal spray, is being offered to all primary school aged children for the first time in England. It is a nasal spray to young children to help protect them against the flu. This vaccine is available free on the NHS for:

  • All children aged two to 10 (but not 11 years or older) on 31 August 2019
  • Children aged from six months to 17 with long-term health conditions

Further details about the flu virus and vaccine can be found at www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine/.

Those who aren’t eligible to have a free vaccine can get their vaccination at local pharmacies for a small cost. You can find a list of all pharmacies offering this service and their opening times at www.nhs.uk/service-search/Pharmacy. The cost of a flu jab ranges from £7 to £13 depending on the pharmacy.

Cllr Margaret Cracknell, portfolio holder for Health, Wellbeing and Adult Social Care at North East Lincolnshire Council, said:

“We tend to hear a lot of myths around the flu vaccine – that it can give people the flu. This is absolutely not true. We hope to encourage as many people as possible to get the flu vaccine.

“Make sure you don’t put off getting the flu vaccine. It only takes a few minutes. Flu is easily spread and even those with only mild symptoms can still pass it on to others.

“Book your flu vaccine with your GP or local pharmacy as soon as you can to make sure you are protected.”

Local GP and medical director with NHS North East Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Dr Ekta Elston said:

“People who are eligible and at a high risk of problems if they catch the flu should make arrangements to get their free flu vaccination as soon as possible.

“However, the flu virus can affect anyone no matter how fit and healthy they are. If you are not eligible for a free vaccination then you are still able to have one from pharmacists.  It can still be beneficial in protecting yourself and others who are vulnerable.

Top tips to reduce your risk of catching flu:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
  • Dispose of tissues quickly
  • Regularly wash your hands with soap and water or use a sanitising gel
  • Remember – catch it, bin it, kill it

You can find out more about flu vaccinations by visiting https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine/,

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