With winter now upon us, NHS East Riding of Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and local GPs are reminding people in clinical ‘at risk’ groups – specifically those aged 65 and over, carers, pregnant women, and people with long term health conditions – to make sure that they have their seasonal flu jab if they haven’t already done so.
The vaccination is offered free of charge to all those who are eligible.
Dr Robert Blackbourn, a GP at South Holderness Medical Practice, Withernsea, says it’s important for people to get protected:
“Older people, pregnant women, young children and people with on-going health conditions are considered more vulnerable to the effects of the flu virus and are therefore more likely to become seriously ill, develop complications or require hospital admission if they catch it.
“Carers are also an important group to protect, as they look after some of the most vulnerable people in our community. In order to protect themselves and those they care for, it’s vital that they come forward and take up the offer of vaccination too.
”An influenza epidemic could result in very serious consequences for the delivery of healthcare to those most in need. It is vitally important that all healthcare professionals, both NHS and private, take up flu immunisations to help mitigate this. This particularly includes people working in residential and nursing homes.”
Those who are in the high risk groups should have received communication from their GP surgery inviting them to attend for vaccination, and many practices have organised special flu vaccination clinics. Details can often be found on practices’ web sites
From September 1 2013, a new annual nasal spray flu vaccine will be offered to all children aged two and three years as part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme. It will also be offered to children aged 2-18 with long-term health conditions like diabetes, heart disease and lung disease.
Children aged six months to 2 years with long-term health conditions aren’t able to have the nasal spray and will get the injected flu vaccine instead.
Dr Blackbourn added:
“Flu vaccination uptake rates across our area are generally good, however, we cannot afford to be complacent.
“It is important to get protected before winter-related, influenza infections begin to circulate so we would encourage all those who fall into one of the at risk groups to contact their GP surgery to book their appointment as soon as possible.
“The vaccine is very safe. Despite popular belief, the flu vaccine cannot give you flu as it doesn’t contain the active virus needed to do this. And the new, nasal spray vaccine for children removes any concerns about having an injection.
“Studies have shown that the flu vaccination definitely works and will help prevent people from getting the flu.
“However, over time, protection from the flu vaccine gradually decreases. Also flu strains often change. New flu vaccines are produced each year to tackle this which is why people at risk need to make sure they have the vaccine every year to keep themselves protected.”
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