With winter just around the corner, this time of year is the flu season so it is important not to put off getting the flu vaccination.
The cold winter weather can be harmful to health, especially for elderly and vulnerable people. North Lincolnshire Council and North Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are urging people to do a few simple things to keep you and your family well this winter – including getting the flu vaccine to protect yourselves and others from getting the flu.
Flu is an unpleasant illness, but if you are healthy it’s less serious and you will usually recover within a week or two. However for some people, catching the flu increases the risk of potentially serious complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia. These people especially, are therefore advised to have a flu jab each year.
Healthy people can also protect themselves from contracting flu by having a flu vaccination. Protecting yourself can also help to protect others in the event of a flu outbreak by reducing the spread of the flu virus in communities.
The injected flu vaccine is offered free on the NHS to people who are at risk- it’s free because you need it! Those eligible to receive a free flu vaccine are:
Are 65 years-old or over
People aged from 6 months to less than 65 years who have a serious medical condition (check with your pharmacist or GP to see if you are eligible)
Are living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility
Receive a carer’s allowance or are the main carer for an elderly, or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill
The flu vaccination offers the best protection against the unpredictable virus. People with flu are approximately 11 times more likely to die if they have an underlying health condition than if they don’t.
Remember, you need to be vaccinated every year as flu strains can change each year. Your vaccination you had last year will not protect you this year.
The children’s flu vaccine is offered as a yearly nasal spray to young children to help protect them against flu. The vaccine is available free on the NHS for:
children aged two to three (but not four years or older) on 31 August 2017 – that is, children born between 1 September 1 2013 and on or before 31 August 2015
children in reception and school years one, two, three and four (Reception Year defined as four rising to five year olds (born between 1 September 2012 and on or before 31 August 2013)
children aged from six months to 17 with long-term health conditions
Even if we are not in the ‘at risk’ category for receiving the vaccine free, we can all benefit from having the flu vaccine and it is available in a number of our pharmacies across North Lincolnshire at a small charge.
Councillor Julie Reed, cabinet member for Adults and Health, said: “Making sure you are vaccinated against the flu virus is very important if you are aged over 65, are pregnant or are living with a long term health condition. People with long term health conditions are at greater risk of their conditions turning into something more serious.
“Don’t take the risk, book your flu vaccination today.
“If you’re a carer it’s important to have the flu vaccine to ensure that you keep yourself well and are able to maintain your caring role.
“It is also recommended that young children get the flu vaccination. For children, flu can be horrible and they can spread the virus around the whole family. Some can develop a high fever and complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia which may need hospital treatment. For children aged two to eight the flu vaccination is not an injection, just a quick nasal spray. Ask your GP or pharmacist about the free vaccination.”
Dr Margaret Sanderson, GP and Chair of the CCG, explained: “Flu can be extremely serious for some people especially the younger and older generations and it poses a high risk for those with underlying health conditions and pregnant women. Due to this we really urge these people to see their GP as soon as they can and have their free flu vaccine to protect not only themselves but also those around them, as the vaccination is the best protection against the flu virus.”