Patients living with a long term condition are urged to have a free NHS flu vaccination to help keep them well this winter.

Living with a long term condition can be very challenging and unfortunately can cause you to be more vulnerable to the winter flu infection.

Lead GP at NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group Dr Colin Patterson said:

“If you have a long term condition – maybe heart failure, or breathing difficulties, or you might be having treatment for cancer or living with a condition like Parkinson’s – if you catch flu it puts you at greater risk of more serious outcomes. The flu virus can make the effects of existing conditions worse, making it harder to manage existing symptoms and can lead to complications. 

“Prevention is always our preferred option, so if you are invited by your GP to have the flu vaccine please make sure you take up the offer – it could help prevent severe illness and potential hospital admissions.”

It is vital that those who are eligible receive the vaccine annually as it protects against different strains of flu which can change or evolve each year. 

Practices are also working differently this year to ensure safety in regards to the covid-19 pandemic. If you usually receive your vaccine at a GP surgery the team will be in touch to update on this year’s vaccine arrangements, by letter, text or phone. GP surgeries will be ensuring these arrangements adhere to social distancing and further information is also available on their websites and social media accounts.

Dr Patterson continued: 

“As a GP for 30 years I have found that many people who could have had the flu did not pick up the virus after having the vaccine. It doesn’t just protect you; it also protects those around you. If you do get the flu after vaccination it is also likely to be milder and shorter-lived than it otherwise might have been.

“Don’t be tempted to think I had it last year so I’ll be ok this year. If you are offered, please get the jab and do what you can to stay well. This year it is more important than ever.”