As the winter approaches, doctors in Northamptonshire are urging people at risk of flu and pneumonia to get vaccinated this winter.
Ahead of the national winter campaign, soon to be launched by NHS England and Public Health England, NHS Nene Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Northamptonshire County Council are encouraging people who are eligible to take up the free flu vaccine this winter.
People with serious health conditions, adults aged 65 or over, pregnant women, some carers and healthy children aged between 2 and 4, plus children in primary school years one and two, all qualify for the free vaccination from the NHS.
Dr Darin Seiger, chair of NHS Nene Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Preparing for potential winter illnesses is important for everyone, but especially those at higher risk of getting flu. The vaccine is updated every year to combat the latest strains of the flu virus so if you are in an at-risk group and had the jab last year, you will need another one this year.
“People with respiratory diseases such as COPD, emphysema or asthma are seven times more likely to die if they catch flu compared to those that don’t, and people with cardiovascular problems such as chronic heart disease or angina, or those who have had a stroke, are 11 times more likely.
“Some people are worried that they will be ill after a flu jab but there is no evidence of this, and I have mine every year, as once you’ve had flu, you never want to feel that ill again."
Flu is a highly contagious infection with symptoms that come on very quickly. In most cases, the symptoms are mild, but in others they can be very serious. Those at greater risk from flu include people aged 65 or over, pregnant women and those with health conditions such as severe asthma, chest or heart complaints and diabetes. Flu can make the effects of existing conditions much worse and make complications like pneumonia more likely.
People who are carers are also encouraged to get a free jab to protect themselves and those around them. They can then continue to help those they look after.
Councillor Sylvia Hughes, county council cabinet member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: “It’s important that you think about getting a flu vaccination. If you’re in any of the ‘at risk’ groups the flu jab is completely free and is a safe way of protecting you and your family in a matter of minutes. If you're a parent of a two, three, or four-year-old don't forget they can get also get vaccinated with a simple nasal spray.”
The best time to be vaccinated is at the start of the flu season from October to early November, so it’s good to get in early and get flu safe in time for the winter. Most GP practices will be running additional clinics to accommodate patients needing the vaccination.
Contact your GP practice to arrange a convenient appointment and get your jab or drop in to your local pharmacy.
For more information, speak to your GP or local pharmacist, or visit the NHS flu website.