NHS teams in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire are encouraging ‘at risk’ patients to take up their free flu vaccination in order to stay well this winter.
The flu jab is free on the NHS for people in priority groups, including anyone aged 65 and over, pregnant women, children aged two to nine years and people with long-term health conditions.
People in long-stay residential homes, carers and healthcare staff are also eligible for the free vaccination this year.
Flu is a highly infectious disease and while it can be extremely unpleasant for most healthy people, for those with underlying health conditions it can lead to hospitalisation, permanent disability and even death.
The illness is caused by viruses that infect the respiratory system, where they can lead to pneumonia and other complications. The viruses are constantly changing and this is one of the main reasons why people should be vaccinated annually.
The best way to avoid getting the flu is by having the vaccination. Doing so reduces the risk of developing the illness significantly.
Local GP and Chair of Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCG, Dr Jonathan Hayes, said: “If you’re in one of the higher risk groups, flu can seriously affect your health and that’s why I am encouraging all patients who are eligible to get their free flu jab as soon as possible.
“Remember that the flu virus changes every year, so even if you had the jab last year, it’s really important that you get it again this year to make sure you’re protected.
“Many of the people who come to my surgery are surprised at how quick and easy it is to get the jab. And as well as having the satisfaction of knowing you have the best possible protection against the virus, by getting the jab you’ll also be helping to stop the spread of flu to other more vulnerable members of the community.”
Groups eligible for the free vaccine this year are:
- All children aged two to nine (but not ten years or older)
on 31 August 2018
- Pregnant women
- Those aged 65 years and over (including those becoming 65 by
31 March 19)
- Those in long-stay residential care homes
- Healthcare workers
- Social care workers
- People with learning disabilities and their carers
- Those aged six months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups, including patients with chronic (long term) respiratory disease, such as severe asthma; chronic heart disease; diabetes and chronic kidney disease.
For more information about the flu vaccine, speak to your GP or see www.nhs.uk