Flu is a highly infectious viral illness which can lead to complications, hospital admissions and even death. Symptoms of flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, body aches and tiredness. Those people in ‘at risk’ groups are also susceptible to further complications.
Flu has a big impact on NHS winter pressures both in terms of the illness itself and its impact on the wider health and care system due to other complications or staff and carer illness.
The flu vaccine is the most effective way to reduce the occurrence of illness and the unplanned hospital admissions that inevitably follow, particularly in the over 65 year old age group and those with long term health conditions.
This winter, the vaccine is free of charge for the following people:
• All children aged between two and ten on or before 31 August 2019.
• Those aged between six months and 64 years in clinical risk groups*.
• Pregnant women – women in any trimester of pregnancy.
• Those aged 65 years and over.
• Those in long-stay residential care homes.
• Carers (informal carers who are in receipt of a carer allowance or a main carer of a vulnerable person).
• Frontline staff in direct patient contact working for primary care, community and acute NHS trusts or social care staff employed by a registered residential care, nursing home, domiciliary care provider or voluntary managed hospice provider, who are directly involved in the care of vulnerable people are also eligible for free flu vaccinations.
People belonging to any of these groups should speak to their GP to book a vaccination, or visit a local pharmacy as they may also provide free flu vaccinations. Frontline staff can also contact their occupational health team.
Cabinet Member for Public Health at Northamptonshire County Council, Cllr Ian Morris, said: “In the last 3 years, over 11,000 people were hospitalised in Northamptonshire due to flu or flu related complications, with nearly 8,000 of those people aged over 65. Having the flu vaccine can help prevent the spread of seasonal flu and help to prevent those most at risk from becoming ill."
Lucy Wightman, Director of Public Health stated: “The flu vaccination programme is the best way of protecting you and your family from flu this winter. With an increasing number of people eligible for a free vaccine, we have the potential to protect more people than ever from falling ill this winter, and reduce demand on our NHS and healthcare services.”
Anyone in doubt about whether they qualify for a free vaccination should contact their GP.
See the Public Health page for information and myth busting on the flu vaccination.
This year we’re supporting Ned’s Story. Ned was one of the 1,692 people who lost their lives to flu last year. Warning: Content is about death of a child. Some viewers may find the content upsetting