Waltham Forest residents urged to protect against the winter flu

Waltham Forest residents who are aged 65 years and over or are pregnant or suffering with health conditions such as cancer, diabetes or heart or respiratory diseases are amongst those being urged to ensure they protect themselves this winter with a flu vaccination. 

Flu is a highly contagious viral infection that anyone can catch, and it can be a really serious illness for some. This is why NHS Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Waltham Forest Council are urging people at the greatest risk if they catch the flu to ensure they have their free flu jab. 

The NHS vaccine is available to:

  • people aged 65 or over
  • pregnant women
  • people with a long term condition such as a heart problem, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, a chest complaint or breathing difficulties including bronchitis or emphysema,
  • people with a weakened immune system– for example patients taking steroids or undergoing treatment for cancer
  • all children aged between two and four years old
  • carers for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill. 

This is because people in these groups are 11 times more likely to experience complications if they get the flu. It is very important that people in these high risk groups have the flu vaccination because it is one of the most effective ways to reduce harm from the seasonal flu virus. 

All GP surgeries and many pharmacies offer the flu jab free of charge to people who are at risk to make sure that they are protected against catching flu and developing serious complications. 

Children who are aged two, three and four years are being offered a nasal spray vaccine to prevent them from getting the flu virus and parents are being encouraged to make an appointment with their local GP to receive the vaccine. This is less painful and quicker than receiving an injection. 

Dr Anwar Khan, GP and chair of Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning (CCG), says: “I really want to encourage people to get a flu jab. It is safe and it’s free. The vaccine is updated every year to fight the latest strains of the flu virus, so if you had the jab last year you will still need another one this year. 

“You can help stop the spread of flu by covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and by washing your hands frequently or using hand gels to reduce the risk of picking up the virus.”

As the colder months begin to bite, Cllr Ahsan Khan, Waltham Forest Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, warns that getting your flu shot is an important way of protecting yourself and your family.

He says: “For most healthy people, flu is an unpleasant experience with recovery time taking up to a week. However for older people, the very young, pregnant women and those with a long-term health condition, it can have very serious consequences and in some cases people require hospital treatment.

‘‘It’s these people we need to protect against this virus. It is also important that front line NHS staff and social care staff also get the jab to help stop the virus spreading.”

People who work for the council and the NHS and have regular contact with the community are able to receive a free flu vaccination, and those who work for residential and nursing care homes and domiciliary care agencies are also being encouraged to get vaccinated.