As the autumn sets in and winter approaches, there is still time for those at greatest risk from flu to protect themselves and their families, and stay well this winter with a free flu vaccination.
Flu is a highly contagious infection that anyone can catch, and it can be a really serious illness for some. Those eligible for the free flu vaccination include people aged 65 or over, pregnant women, and those with health conditions such as severe asthma, chest or heart complaints and diabetes.
Children aged 2 or 3 are also eligible to get the flu vaccination at their GP practice. They are offered the vaccination as a yearly nasal spray to help protect them against flu. It’s important that they take it up, as healthy children under the age of 5 are more likely to have to be admitted to hospital with flu than any other age group. Children in reception class and school years 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 will be offered the vaccine there.
Dr Sarah Raistrick, local GP and Chair of NHS Coventry and Rugby Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Flu is not just a cold – it can be a serious illness. If you’re pregnant, have lowered immunity or a long term health condition such as asthma, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), heart disease, or diabetes then you should get your free flu jab from your GP surgery or pharmacist to help you to stay well this winter. If you have children (aged 2-5 years or any age with a chronic illness – ask your surgery for details) you should help us to protect them - and the wider community- by getting them the nasal flu vaccination. The flu vaccination is safe, and it can’t give you flu.”
The Clinical Commissioning Group in Coventry and Rugby is also urging people to talk to their family members, friends and neighbours 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 vaccination to protect themselves and those around them.
The flu vaccine changes every year to fight the latest strains of flu, so even if you had one last winter you need another one this year to help keep yourself well this winter.
Dr Raistrick added: “Flu can increase the risk of developing serious illnesses such as pneumonia and respiratory failure, and can make existing conditions much worse. Flu can knock you off your feet and make it hard to look after children or go to work. In the most serious cases, flu might require hospitalisation and can be fatal.”
“If you’re in any of the ’at risk’ groups, the flu vaccination is completely free and is a safe way of protecting you and your family in a matter of minutes.”
The best time to be vaccinated is at the start of the flu season from September to early November, so it’s good to get in early and help the NHS to keep you well this winter.
Simply 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.
For more information, speak to your GP or local pharmacist, or visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine/