Protect yourself against winter flu with a free vaccine

Protect yourself against winter flu with a free vaccine

People in Waltham Forest who are most vulnerable to flu are being urged to protect themselves and their family this winter by having the flu vaccination.

Flu is a highly contagious viral infection that anyone can catch, and it can be very serious for some. It is most common over the winter period.

Getting the flu jab or nasal spray is one of the most effective ways to reduce potential harm from the seasonal flu virus.

The vaccination is offered for free to those at increased risk from the effects of flu. This includes:

  • children aged two to eight
  • people aged 65 and over
  • pregnant women
  • people with long-term health conditions
  • carers
  • front-line health and social care workers.

Dr Anwar Khan, a local GP and chair of NHS Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said:

“Getting the free flu vaccination can help the most vulnerable people in Waltham Forest to prepare for winter and avoid having to visit hospital due to common winter illnesses.

“The vaccine is updated every year to combat the latest strains of the flu virus, so if you are in an at-risk group and had the jab last year, you will need another one this year.

“If you are someone who is at a higher risk of illness if you get the flu, then I encourage you to take up the offer of a flu jab.”

It is really important that people at higher risk of developing serious complications from flu take up the offer of the free vaccine.

People with respiratory diseases such as COPD, emphysema or asthma are seven times more likely to die if they catch flu compared to those that don’t, and people with cardiovascular problems such as chronic heart disease or angina, or those who have had a stroke, are 11 times more likely.

Vaccinating children not only helps to prevent them from getting the virus, it also prevents the spread of flu within the local population.

Last year’s flu vaccination programme reduced the risk of flu in children who received the vaccine by 65.3%.

For healthy children aged two to eight, the flu vaccine is given in the form of a nasal spray, administered by a health professional.

To get your vaccine or find out if you are eligible, contact your GP, pharmacist or midwife for more information.

People who are not in the at-risk groups, and therefore not eligible for the free NHS flu vaccination, are still strongly recommended to make their own arrangements to have the flu jab as the virus can be serious for anyone who catches it. Vaccinations are available for a small charge at many local pharmacies.

Professor Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer, said: “Flu kills and we could save thousands of lives if everyone eligible got their free jab.

“With more people eligible than ever before and the vaccine available in more locations, people should protect themselves and those around them against this potentially deadly virus. Taking a few minutes to get the jab could save your life this winter.”

Visit www.nhs.uk/staywell for more information on how to help you and your family to stay well this winter.