Winter can be seriously bad for our health and a challenging time for the NHS, particularly urgent and emergency care services.
One of the best protections for people who are at increased risk of flu this coming winter is to make sure they have their free flu vaccination, the sooner the better as the weather chills down.
Flu can affect anyone but for anyone with a long term health condition the effects of flu can make it worse even if the condition is well managed.
You should have the free flu vaccine if you have any of the following medical conditions (this includes children and babies over six months of age):
- A heart problem
- A chest complaint or breathing difficulties including emphysema or severe asthma
- A kidney disease
- Lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (such as steroid medication or cancer treatment)
- Liver disease
- Had a stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
- A neurological condition eg multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy or a learning disability
- A problem with your spleen eg sickle cell disease or you have your spleen removed
- Are seriously overweight
Flu can be a very unpleasant illness in children.
This year all two, three and four-year-olds and children in school years 1,2 and 3 and 4 are being offered the free flu vaccination. Children in years 5 and 6 are also being offered protection as Basildon and Brentwood was one of the former primary school pilot areas.
As well as protecting children, the infection is then less able to spread to other family members and friends including their parents and grandparents. For most children the vaccine is given as a nasal spray so it is painless and easy to have.
You should also have a flu vaccination if you are:
- Aged 65 years or over
- Living in a residential care home
- A carer
- Living with someone who is immunocompromised
- A health or social care workers with direct patient/service user contact
Please ask at your GP practice or local pharmacy about having your flu vaccination.