Stay well this winter - now's the time to get your free flu jab
This week all those in ‘at risk’ groups are being reminded to get their free flu jab.
Flu is a highly contagious illness that spreads rapidly through the population. It can cause serious complications for at risk groups, such as the elderly, expectant mothers and people with long term health conditions.
Those eligible for the free winter flu vaccination include:
•those aged 65 years and over
•those aged six months to under 65 in clinical risk groups
•all children aged two, three and four-year-olds (on 31 August 2015)
•all children of school years 1 and 2 age:
-Year 1 school age: 5 year olds, rising to 6 year olds (i.e date of birth between 1st September 2009 and on or before 31st August 2010)
-Year 2 school age: 6 year olds, rising to 7 years olds (i.e date of birth between 1st September 2008 and on or before 31st August 2009)
Those ensure to whether they are eligible can contact their local GP or Pharmacist to find out if they are eligible for the free flu vaccination.
The reminder is being issued by Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin Public Health Teams as part of this year’s Stay Well this Winter campaign launched last week (Thursday 15 October) by Public Health England and NHS England, as a major drive to help people stay well this winter.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people see their GP and tens of thousands are hospitalised because of flu1. Symptoms of flu can be very unpleasant and last for several weeks. It can lead to more serious complications like middle ear infections in children, and pneumonia or bronchitis for those with underlying health conditions, and in some cases it can be fatal.
This year more children are being vaccinated because they can very easily pick up germs and spread them amongst friends and family members. This vaccination programme helps protect the population.
Councillor Karen Calder Cabinet Member for Health and Chair of Shropshire’s Health and Wellbeing board said;
“Flu is highly contagious and spreads rapidly causing serious complications for those most at risk, such as the elderly, expectant mothers and people with long term health conditions. I would really urge those people who are eligible to take up their free vaccine with their GP or Pharmacist. It’s free because you need it.”
Councillor Richard Overton, Telford & Wrekin Council’s deputy leader and Cabinet Member for Public Health, said: “If those who are eligible act now and take advantage of the opportunity to have a free flu vaccine, it can help them avoid health problems during the cold weather. There is obvious advantage for an individual’s health but also for society generally in terms of reducing pressure on health services at busy times.”
Dr Irfan Ghani, Public Health Consultant at Shropshire Council added;
“Flu vaccination is still the best protection against an unpredictable virus which can cause severe illness and deaths amongst vulnerable groups. My advice for anyone eligible for the free flu vaccination is to get it now before flu starts to circulate in your community.”
Throughout the last decade, there has generally been a good match between the strains of flu in the vaccine and those that subsequently circulate, so it’s important that we do all we can to ensure vulnerable people are encouraged to have the flu vaccination now to protect themselves and their family..
Vaccines are available between October 2015 and March 2016. As well as protecting against flu, the NHS Stay Well This Winter campaign will urge people over 65 or those with long-term health conditions, such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease or respiratory illness, to prepare for winter with advice on how to ward off common illnesses.
The NHS ‘Stay Well This Winter’ campaign urges the public to:
oMake sure you get your flu jab if eligible.
oKeep yourself warm - heat your home to least 18 degrees C or (65F) if you can.
oIf you start to feel unwell, even if it’s just a cough or a cold, then get help from your pharmacist quickly before it gets more serious.
oMake sure you get your prescription medicines before pharmacies close on Christmas Eve.
oAlways take your prescribed medicines as directed.
oLook out for other people who may need a bit of extra help over winter.
For more information about flu and how to Stay Well this Winter visit www.nhs.uk/staywell.