Flu vaccination is vital this winter say doctors

Date published: 22 November 2021

Doctors in Rochdale are calling on residents to play their part and get a flu jab ahead of a challenging winter for the NHS.

The quick and simple flu vaccination is the best protection from the virus and is offered free to those residents who could be at risk of developing severe complications from it such as bronchitis, pneumonia, the worsening of an existing condition or even death.

As the borough continues to battle Covid-19, it is vital that as many people as possible get a flu jab to protect the most vulnerable in the community. Those living or working with people in at risk groups should also get themselves vaccinated.

People are at significantly greater risk of death and of serious illness if they are co-infected with flu and Covid-19.

The flu vaccine is offered every year on the NHS to help protect people at risk of getting seriously ill from influenza.

The best time to have the flu vaccine is in the autumn or early winter before flu starts spreading, but you can get the vaccine later.

As always, the free NHS flu programme is offered to people:

  • Aged 65 and over
  • Pregnant women
  • People with certain conditions such as asthma and other respiratory diseases, neurological issues such as having had a stroke, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease
  • Carers
  • Those in long term residential care homes
  • Frontline health and social care workers
  • Children over six months with a long-term health condition
  • Two- and three-year-olds and primary school children

This year the programme is being extended to include:

  • All school year groups up to year 7
  • People who were asked by the Government to shield themselves amid the Covid-19 pandemic (members of their household will also be eligible for a free jab).
  • adults aged 50 to 64
  • close contacts of those who are immunocompromised

It is worth noting that some people may be eligible for both the flu and the Covid-19 booster vaccines. If you are offered both vaccines, it is safe to have them both at the same time.

Dr Chris Duffy, chair of NHS Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “It’s more important than ever this year to protect yourself and others to avoid becoming seriously ill.

“Flu and Covid-19 will be circulating at the same time and having both viruses at the same time will increase the chance of you dying from the illnesses.”

“Catching the flu can be unpleasant and for some people, it can even be life-threatening, so the best way to protect yourself and those around you is to get the vaccination. I urge everyone to book their jabs as soon as possible and help our borough to stay healthy in what will be a very tough winter for the NHS.”

People can get the flu jab at their GP surgery or a pharmacy offering the service. Anyone can get the flu jab, but only people in a group listed above are entitled to a free jab through the NHS. Prices can vary, but a private winter flu jab costs around £15 from a high street pharmacy such as Lloyds or Boots or around £8/£9 from a supermarket pharmacy.

Flu is spread by germs from coughs and sneezes, which can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours. Flu symptoms come on very quickly and there can be a number of symptoms such as fever, aching, body, tiredness, dry cough, headache, sore throat.

The flu vaccine gives the best protection against flu and helps to protect against the main types of flu viruses, although there is still a chance you might get flu, it is likely to be milder and not last as long.

For more information visit www.nhs.uk/fluvaccine

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