Even though we’ve just said goodbye to the summer holidays, now is the time to start thinking about protecting your health over winter with a flu vaccination.
Most GP practices across east and west Suffolk will soon be holding flu vaccination clinics for their registered patients – and people in at-risk groups are being encouraged to attend. Many pharmacies also provide NHS flu vaccinations for those in at-risk groups aged 18+.
For many people a bout of flu will result in symptoms such as headaches, aches, pains and tiredness. However, for people in at-risk groups flu can have serious consequences, leading to existing health conditions getting worse or the development of an illness such as bronchitis or pneumonia. It is important for eligible young children to have the vaccination to prevent the spread of flu to other at-risk family members.
You are entitled to a free NHS flu vaccination if you are:
– Are aged 65 years or over
– Are pregnant
– Receive a carer’s allowance or are a carer of an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill
– Are living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility
– Are aged between six months and 65 years and have a heart problem, a chest complaint or breathing difficulties, lowered immunity due to disease or treatment, liver disease, had a stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA), diabetes, a neurological condition or a problem with or removal of the spleen e.g. sickle cell disease
– Are a child aged 2 – 3
– Are in reception class/school years 1 – 5
People in at-risk groups are encouraged to ask at their GP practice or pharmacy about having a flu vaccination.
Dr Mark Shenton, a GP in Stowmarket and chairman of NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “It’s totally understandable that, considering how warm the weather has been lately, the last thing many people will be thinking about is their winter health. But the cold weather will undoubtedly arrive , so it is important that vulnerable people take the necessary precautions to stay health and avoid an unnecessary illness that could result in a hospital stay.”
Dr Christopher Browning, a GP in Long Melford and chairman of NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “I would urge people to take the risks of flu seriously and not put off getting a free vaccination. Symptoms of flu can be debilitating and last for several weeks. It can lead to more serious complications like middle ear infections in children, and pneumonia or bronchitis for those with underlying health conditions, and in some cases it can be fatal.”
“It’s all too easy to put off the vaccination due to other commitments. However, flu is a nasty illness that can leave its sufferers out of action for some time, and can even cause death.
“Those at particular risk, because they are pregnant, have a health condition or aged 65 years or over, as well as carers all qualify for a free vaccination.
“Don’t put off getting the vaccine. It will be available from your GP and local pharmacy. It’s a simple but vitally important way of protecting your health, and reducing the spread of flu to friends and loved ones.”
Tania Farrow, a pharmacist in Stowmarket and Chief Officer of Suffolk Local Pharmaceutical Committee, said “For most healthy people flu is an unpleasant but usually self-limiting disease.
“However, older people, pregnant women and those with other health conditions are at particular risk of severe illness if they catch it.
“In addition to your local GP surgery, many community pharmacists administer flu vaccinations on behalf of the NHS to provide more opportunities for eligible patients to access this important service.
Read the factsheet “The Science Behind Flu” HERE
Find out more about flu and flu vaccinations at – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/flu/