With autumn nights drawing in and the weather turning colder by the day, GP practices and pharmacies are gearing up for winter.
Basildon and Brentwood Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is reminding people in ‘at risk’ groups to book in for their free flu jab.
- adults over 65
- those with long term health conditions
- children aged 2 - 7
- pregnant women
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people up and down the country see their GP and tens of thousands are hospitalised because of flu. 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.
Last year, across Basildon and Brentwood the number of people who had their free flu jab was much lower than in other places in the country. This puts some of these people’s health at risk and can have a significant impact on our local health services, which are already stretched and facing financial difficulties.
As someone with a long term condition, Basildon and Brentwood CCG’s Public Health Consultant Krishna Ramkhelawon has the flu jab every year and is encouraging other people in ‘at risk’ groups to get themselves vaccinated.
Krishna said: “Flu is a highly contagious illness that spreads rapidly through the population. It can cause serious complications for at risk groups, such as the people who are frail and elderly, expectant mothers and people with long term health conditions such as diabetes, heart problems, cancer patients and asthma.
“This year more children are being vaccinated because we know that they can very easily pick up germs and spread them among friends and family members. This vaccination programme helps protect people and their communities.
“Thousands more local residents are entitled to a free flu jab and if you are unsure, please contact your GP practice. My advice for anyone eligible for the free flu vaccination is to get it early before flu starts to circulate in their community.”
Although it’s not possible to know which strains of flu will circulate each winter, the flu vaccination is still the best protection against an unpredictable virus which can cause severe illness and deaths amongst vulnerable groups.
Over the many years that the flu jab has been administered, there has generally been a good match between the strains of flu in the vaccine and those that subsequently circulate, so it’s important that we do all we can to ensure vulnerable people are not discouraged from having flu vaccination now, or in the future.
Vaccines are available now so contact your local GP or pharmacy as soon as possible – it’s free because you need it.