People at risk of seasonal flu are being urged to protect themselves by getting their annual free flu jabs.
Everyone aged 65 and over is routinely offered the jab, as are younger people with long-term conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, multiple sclerosis, serious kidney and liver disease. The vaccination is also offered to carers to protect the older and vulnerable people they look after.
Dr Chris Clayton, local GP and Clinical Chief Officer at NHS Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group, has had his flu jab. He said: “I always make sure I have my flu jab. It not only protects me, but my family members and colleagues also. A lot of the patients I see are in a clinical at risk group and would be most vulnerable if they caught flu off me, hence the fact that I ensure that myself and all my family members are vaccinated annually.
“Flu can be a nasty illness anyway but for those in at-risk groups it is vital they do everything they can to protect themselves. Most people with flu have comparatively mild symptoms and recover quickly but for some it can have a much more severe effect and they may have to be admitted to hospital.
“People over 65 or with a long term condition have a far higher risk of developing complications if they get flu. In extreme, and fortunately rare, cases people die, so no one should assume that they will escape with mild illness. Vaccination really is the best line of defence against flu.”
People eligible to receive the vaccine will be contacted by their GP. Seasonal flu, also known as influenza, is a highly infectious illness caused by a virus. The types of virus in circulation change every year as does the vaccine, so, it is important that those at risk ensure they receive the jab annually to protect themselves.
The best way to avoid flu is to get immunised, but in addition, people can protect themselves and those around them by practising good hand hygiene with the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ technique. This means carrying tissues, covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue, disposing of the tissue after one use, and cleaning hands as soon as possible with soap and water or an alcohol hand gel.
If you aren’t eligible to receive the free flu vaccine from you GP, you can contact your local pharmacy, where for a small charge will offer the vaccination.
Notes to editors
- For further information – please visit www.nhs.uk
- You should have the seasonal flu vaccination if you are:
a. aged 65 years or over
b. living in a residential or nursing home, or
c. the main carer for an older or disabled person.
- Even if you feel healthy, you may still be at increased risk of seasonal flu. The free seasonal flu vaccination is recommended if you have:
a. a heart problem
b. a chest complaint or breathing difficulties including, bronchitis, emphysema
c. a kidney disease
d. lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (such as steroid medication or cancer treatment)
e. a liver disease
f. had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
h. a neurological condition e.g. multiple sclerosis (MS) or cerebral palsy
i. a problem with, or removal of, your spleen e.g. sickle cell disease.