As the autumn sets in and winter approaches, it’s time for those at greatest risk from flu to protect themselves and their families, and get flu safe with a free flu jab.
Flu is a highly contagious infection that anyone can catch, and it can be a really serious illness for some. 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.
From October 2012, those people at most risk will be encouraged to get flu safe with a free flu jab from their GP. The NHS in England is launching the new Flu Safe campaign to remind people that they should get a flu jab. Flu Safe is a national message to highlight the importance of getting the jab, and carries facts about flu to dispel common misconceptions. Flu Safe is also on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FluSafe
Dr Andrea Atherton, Director of Public Health at NHS South Essex, said: “Flu is not just a cold – it can be a really serious illness for some people and it doesn’t just affect older people. If you’re pregnant, have lowered immunity or a long term health condition such as severe asthma, a chest or heart complaint, or diabetes then you should also get a free flu jab from your GP and get flu safe. The flu jab is completely safe, and it can’t give you flu.”
NHS South Essex is encouraging everyone in South Essex who knows anyone who may be at risk from flu to tell them how important it is that they get protected. People who are carers and frontline health and social care staff are also encouraged to get a free jab to protect themselves and those around them.
New Flu Vaccines Every Year
The flu vaccine changes every year to fight the latest strains of flu, so even if you had a jab last winter you need another one this year to stay flu safe. The jab doesn’t contain the ‘live’ virus so it cannot give you the flu.
Dr Atherton continued: “Flu can increase the risk of developing more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and can make existing conditions much worse. Flu can knock you off your feet and make it hard to look after the kids or go to work. In the most serious cases, seasonal flu might land you in hospital – it can even result in death.”
“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.”
The Best Time to be Flu Vaccinated
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.
Simply contact your GP to arrange a convenient appointment and get your jab. It’s quick, safe and free for those most at risk from the virus.
Flu Vaccinations Free to ‘At Risk’ Groups
- People aged 65 years or over (including those becoming age 65 years by 31 March 2013).
- All pregnant women (including those women who become pregnant during the flu season).
- People with a serious medical condition such as
- Chronic (long-term) respiratory disease, such as severe asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or bronchitis
- Chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- Chronic kidney disease at stage 3, 4 or 5
- Chronic liver disease
- Chronic neurological disease, such as Parkinson’s disease or motor neurone disease
- A weakened immune system due to disease (such as HIV/AIDS) or treatment (such as cancer treatment)
- People living in long stay residential care homes or other long-stay care facilities where rapid spread is likely to follow introduction of infection and cause high morbidity and mortality. This does not include, for instance, prisons, young offender institutions, or university halls of residence
- People who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an older or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill.
For more information, speak to your GP or local pharmacist, or visit www.nhs.uk/flu.
Image source: Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Consultation (sotw.NHS.uk)