Even though we’ve just said goodbye to the summer holidays GP practices are gearing up for winter and those in at risk groups are being reminded to book in for their free flu jab.
Adults over 65, those with long term health conditions, children aged 2 - 7, carers and pregnant women may all be eligible.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people see their GP and tens of thousands are hospitalised because of flu.
Symptoms of flu can be debilitating 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.
Speaking on behalf of Cannock Chase, Stafford and Surrounds and South East Staffordshire and Seisdon Peninsula Clinical Commissioning Groups, Dr John James, Chair of South East Staffordshire and Seisdon Peninsula CCG, said: “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.
“This year more children are being vaccinated because we know that they can very easily pick up germs and spread them amongst friends and family members. This vaccination programme helps protect the population.
"My advice for anyone eligible for the free flu vaccination is to get it early before flu starts to circulate in the community.”
Although it’s not possible to know which strains of flu will circulate each winter, the flu vaccination is still the best protection against an unpredictable virus which can cause severe illness and deaths amongst vulnerable groups.
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 not discouraged from having flu vaccination now, or in the future.
Vaccines are available from September so contact your local GP or pharmacy now – it’s free because you need it.
For more information visit www.nhs.uk/staywell
Notes to editors
• NHS England is the body which leads the NHS in England. Its main aim is to improve the health outcomes for people in England, and it sets the overall direction and priorities for the NHS as a whole.
• Flu vaccinations are currently offered free of charge to the following ‘at-risk’ groups:
- all children aged two to seven (but not eight years or older) on 31 August 20161
- all primary school-aged children in former primary school pilot areas
- those aged six months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups a. chronic (long-term) respiratory disease, such as severe asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or bronchitis b. chronic heart disease, such as heart failure c. chronic kidney disease at stage three, four or 5 d. chronic liver disease e. chronic neurological disease, such as Parkinson’s disease or motor neurone disease f. diabetes g. splenic dysfunction h. a weakened immune system due to disease (such as HIV/AIDS) or treatment (such as cancer treatment)
- pregnant women
- those aged 65 years and over
- those in long-stay residential care homes
• 'Every year, hundreds of thousands of people see their GP and tens of thousands are hospitalised because of flu' - Public Health England: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/public-health-england-and-the-nhs-prepare-for-unpredictable-flu-season