Health and social care teams across Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin are urging those eligible for the free flu vaccine to get their flu jab.
The call out is being announced as the NHS and Public Health England’s Help Us Help You, Stay Well This Winter campaign launches this week (8 October 2018).
Who is eligible for the flu vaccine?
The free flu vaccination is offered to those who are at increased risk from the effects of flu. These include:
• people aged 65 and over
• pregnant women
• people with underlying health conditions
• children (aged 2-9)
This year, those aged 65 and over will be offered a more effective ‘adjuvanted’ vaccine to help their immune systems develop protection against flu.
People aged 18 – 64 with underlying health conditions, will be offered a ‘quadrivalent’ vaccine that will offer protection against four strains of flu.
In addition, the NHS are offering the vaccine as a nasal spray to an extra school year (year 5), meaning all children aged 2-9 can be vaccinated.
Why do we need the flu jab?
Flu is a highly infectious disease and is different to the common cold. Symptoms include fever, chills, headaches, aching muscles and joint pain and fatigue. It can lead to serious complications if you have an underlying health condition such as COPD, bronchitis, emphysema, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease or a chronic neurological disease like multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy. Flu on top of health conditions like these increases your chance of serious health complications and a hospital visit. Flu is that serious that it kills an average of 8,000 people every year.
For older people taking up their flu vaccine could reduce GP consultations by 30,000, hospitalisations by over 2,000 and prevent over 700 hospital deaths from flu in England.
Dr Julian Povey Chair of NHS Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Groups and Dr Jo Leahy Chair of NHS Telford & Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Group said:
“The flu vaccination offers protection for millions of people most at risk including young children, the elderly and those with long-term health conditions.
“It is vital that those eligible have it every year as the vaccine protects against different strains of flu which can change and evolve each year.
“If you are eligible for a free flu vaccination then please contact your GP, pharmacist or midwife for more details.”
Dr Rod Thomson, Director for Public Health at Shropshire Council added;
“Flu is highly infectious and spreads rapidly, causing serious complications for those most at risk. No one wishes to have flu, so I would urge those people who are eligible to take up their free vaccine with their GP or pharmacy.
“Looking at previous year’s flu uptakes, we’re still not seeing enough people who have underlying health conditions, who are at particular risk from flu, taking up their free vaccine. So I would really want to encourage them to have their flu jab. It’s free because you need it and the vaccination is still the best protection we have against this unpredictable virus.”
“We also have many people in Shropshire who look after a loved one who may be elderly, disabled or with a long term condition. If you are the main carer of an older or disabled person you may be eligible for the free flu jab, so please speak to your GP as soon as possible.”
Aside from having your flu vaccine, the best way to prevent the spread of flu is to practice good hand hygiene. Catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue, throw the tissue away and wash your hands. If you think you have flu, stay home and rest until you feel better. Call NHS 111 if you have an underlying health condition or feel really unwell.
If you are eligible for the flu vaccine, get it now before the end of November so to protect yourself this winter– it’s free because you need it. Contact your GP, pharmacist or midwife to get it.
For more information about the flu vaccination visit www.nhs.uk/fluvaccine.