People living in north Cumbria who are eligible for the free flu vaccine, are being urged to get the jab as soon as they are called this winter. The flu ‘jab’ will help to boost immunity over the winter months to help people protect themselves, their family and friends from the flu virus.
Every year the NHS calls people who are eligible to get the jab and this year it is more important than ever.
Dr Robert Westgate, Carlisle GP, said:
“People shouldn’t delay in getting their flu vaccination as flu changes every year and it is a simple procedure which could ultimately save lives.
“Obviously with the huge Covid-19 vaccination programme this year it has really put vaccinations into the spotlight and inspired many discussions, but we have been really encouraged by the excellent take up rate in north Cumbria. People should remember that the flu jab is dealing with a different virus so getting the jab will help to boost their immune system further.
“We are asking people who are eligible for the free flu jab to ensure they get it as soon as possible, as influenza will of course be in circulation as well as Covid-19.
“Influenza can be debilitating especially if you are already living with a long term condition, either very young or very old, or have other risk factors.”
Flu is an extremely contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza A or B viruses. It is an unpredictable virus that can cause mild illness in most people but some people are more likely to develop potentially serious complications of flu such as bronchitis and pneumonia.
Hospital, community and mental health NHS staff will be called by their organisation and those working in social care will be supported to get the jab by their organisation.
If you are eligible for the covid booster jab – which was announced last week – you will be contacted by the NHS. Please do not call your practice to book a covid vaccine booster.
Flu jabs can also be given by your local pharmacist, so people can make enquiries with them about available appointments. Many GP surgeries will already be in contact with many of their most ‘at risk’ patients to arrange suitable appointments and some surgeries will also be running special flu clinics to offer more opportunities and will share any dates with patients accordingly.
The expanded flu vaccination programme that successfully took place last year also continues this year (2021 to 2022 winter season) which means the offer for 50 to 64 year olds to also receive a free flu jab will continue, helping to protect this age group.
Groups eligible for a free NHS flu jab, in the 2021 to 2022 season include:
• all children aged 2 to 15 (but not 16 years or older) on 31 August 2021 – who will be offered a nasal spray
• those aged 6 months to under 50 years in clinical risk groups
• pregnant women
• those aged 50 years and over
• those in long-stay residential care homes
• close contacts of immunocompromised individuals
• frontline health and social care staff employed by:
• a registered residential care or nursing home
• registered domiciliary care provider
• a voluntary managed hospice provider
• Direct Payment (personal budgets) and/or Personal Health Budgets, such as Personal Assistants.
Dr Westgate added: “NHS staff and frontline health and social care workers are also encouraged to get the jab which will help to protect patients, colleagues and their families.
“There is obviously a great deal of pressure on health and care systems at the moment so people getting their flu jab is another important step people can take to help us to help you through the busy winter season.
“It’s also worth noting that there is also an option of a nasal vaccination available for children, ensuring that they are protected with this painless and effective process.”
Studies have shown that flu vaccinations will help prevent people from getting flu. It provides protection against strains of flu that are predicted to circulate each year, as these strains may be different from previous years.
Although the vaccine won't stop all flu viruses and the level of protection may vary from person to person. If you do get flu after vaccination it is likely to be milder and shorter-lived than it otherwise might have been.
Sources of medical help that might be useful:
• If you need medical advice you can visit NHS 111 at: https://111.nhs.uk for information and advice.
• Educational film resources from ‘The Sound Doctor’ explaining the most effective ways of managing long-term conditions are also available to patients across north Cumbria through the CCG’s website at: northcumbriaccg.nhs.uk/thesounddoctor
• A free child health app is also available to download on your mobile to offer advice for looking after your child’s health. The NHS guide has been specifically designed for parents and carers of children aged 0-5 years. The app was designed by hospital specialists, doctors, health visitors and pharmacists to provide lots of useful hints and tips. Search for ‘NHS Child Health’.
• Get your free flu jab if you are eligible and make sure you have had your covid jabs 1 and 2 and a booster if you are called.
For more information on flu, visit the NHS website at: