Blackburn with Darwen health bosses are calling on those at greatest risk from flu to protect themselves and their families with a free flu jab.
As the autumn sets in and winter approaches, it’s time for people to make sure they get the vaccine as this year’s flu campaign gets underway.
Flu is a highly contagious infection that anyone can catch and it can be a really serious illness for some. Those at greater risk include people of all ages with a health condition such as severe asthma, chest or heart complaints and diabetes, pregnant women and young children.
This year the programme is being extended to those in school years 1 and 2 with parents encouraged to complete consent forms to allow their children to receive a free nasal spray vaccine. All children aged 2-4 will be offered the nasal spray through their GP practice and children with a health condition aged from 6 months to their second birthday will be offered the injectable vaccine.
Young children’s close contact with each other means they are more likely to transmit the virus to other more vulnerable groups.
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. The jab doesn’t contain the ‘live’ virus so it cannot give you the flu.
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 in time for the winter.
Contact your GP or pharmacist to arrange a convenient appointment and get your jab. It’s quick, safe and free for those most at risk from the virus.
Councillor Mustafa Desai, Executive Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said: “If you have a long-term health condition, even one that is well managed, you are at greater risk of severe complications if you catch flu. Don’t put off getting the free flu vaccination; if you’re eligible get it now. It’s free because you need it.”
Dr Gifford Kerr, Consultant in Public Health, said: “Flu is not like a cold – it can be a really serious illness for some. Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable and are being actively encouraged to have the vaccine. If you are a parent of a young child the nasal spray vaccination is a quick, painless and effective way for children that age to be protected from flu without the need for injections.”
Dr Chris Clayton, Clinical Chief Officer, NHS Blackburn with Darwen CCG and Chair of the Lancashire Network of CCGs, said: “It couldn’t be easier these days to get a flu jab. It is also important to keep warm during winter, visit a pharmacy if you are feeling unwell, make sure your prescriptions are up to date and only visit your GP if it is completely necessary. At this time of year all NHS services are stretched so please think before your visit as you could be preventing help getting to someone else who urgently needs it.”