At risk groups encouraged to book their flu vaccinations

Monday, 19 October 2015

Local people who are at increased risk from flu are being urged to book their vaccination now.

Flu vaccinations are free to all ‘at risk’ groups including people aged 65 or over, pregnant women, those with long-term conditions and children aged two, three and four years old.

People living in long-stay residential homes and children of school years 1 and 2 are also eligible for the vaccination.

Local GP and South Gloucestershire CCG clinical lead for urgent care Dr Ann Sephton said: “If you’re eligible for the flu vaccination, don’t delay, get it now. It’s free because you need it.

“If you have a long-term health condition, even one that’s well managed, or you’re pregnant, you are at greater risk of severe complications if you catch flu.

 “It’s also available for young children as a nasal spray that offers a quick, painless and effective way to be protected without the need for injections.”

South Gloucestershire Director for Public Health, Professor Mark Pietroni said: “The introduction of the flu vaccination programme is helping to protect and reach the most vulnerable groups in our communities and I would encourage people to take up the free jab.

“It is important for health and social care workers who support people at risk of flu to be protected too and we are working closely with our partners to ensure those professionals with direct patient contact take up the flu vaccination also.”

The flu vaccination is offered to ‘at risk’ groups each year and provides protection against the different strains of flu which evolve every year.

For people with long-term conditions, flu can make these conditions worse and increase the risk of complications such as pneumonia.

Pregnant women are also eligible because the vaccination reduces the risk of complications such as premature birth at a time when women’s immune systems are already weakened by pregnancy. It’s safe during any stage of pregnancy and carries no risk for either mother or baby.

For young children, vaccination via the painless nasal spray helps to protect against an unpleasant illness as well as reducing the chance of flu spreading to others. Evidence from pilot schemes suggests that vaccination in primary schools has a positive impact on the transmission of flu in the wider community.

Locally, all at-risk groups will have been contacted by their GP practice to invite them in for their vaccination.

People in an at-risk group who haven’t been approached should contact their GP to arrange an appointment as soon as possible.

Further information about the flu vaccine is available via leaflets in GP practices and pharmacists and online at www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/pages/flu-influenza-vaccine.aspx