Help to protect yourself from infection and prevent the spread of flu this winter
4th September 2020 | By Melanie Shilton | Posted in Flu
Eligible patients will begin to receive invitations next week to get their annual flu vaccine.
GP practices across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are beginning to contact vulnerable patients who meet the new national eligibility criteria to let them know how to access their flu jab this year.
And patients are being urged to take up the offer promptly and protect themselves against the flu this winter.
Dr Nil Sanganee, GP in Leicestershire said: “With the added complication of covid-19 circulating at the same time, having the flu jab will help protect you and your families from being ill and help the NHS to better manage demand this winter.
“The flu virus typically peaks during the winter months and the best way to help protect yourself and others from catching and spreading flu is to have the flu jab every year.
“Flu strains can change from year to year, which means last year’s jab may not protect you from this year’s strains. The vaccine usually provides protection for the duration of that year’s flu season.
“Getting vaccinated is important each year but this year more than ever we are urging people to have the vaccine in order to protect themselves, and the NHS, this winter.”
Children aged 2 and 3 years old, plus all primary school aged children and school year 7 in secondary school, will be offered the nasal spray vaccination.
The adult flu vaccine is offered free to those in groups at particular risk of infection and complications from flu.
The groups being offered the adult flu vaccine are:
- Pregnant women
- Those aged 65 or over
- Those aged under 65 with long-term conditions
- Shielded patients and those in the same household aged 18 or over
- Pending supply, 50 – 64 year olds will be invited no earlier than November
Dr Sanganee continued: “Due to the pandemic, flu vaccination clinics may be held in a slightly different way this year by each practice and you will be able to get details from your practice website or by calling them.
“Flu vaccines will be released in batches, according to both availability and also the need to prioritise those most at risk. This means flu clinics will be staggered in the months ahead.
“We are asking patients to please book a place in forthcoming flu clinics as soon as they are advertised. Or, you can also visit your nearest participating pharmacy. If you are housebound, please speak to your GP practice.”
Those who do not fall within the eligible categories for a free NHS vaccination will be able to buy a flu vaccine from their local participating pharmacy.
Dr Sanganee said: “This year eligibility for the free flu vaccination has been extended to everyone aged 50 to 64 years, but people in this age group won’t be vaccinated until November and December, providing there is sufficient vaccine. We won’t offer appointments for this age group until then.
“This is to ensure that those who are most at risk are vaccinated first. If you are 50 to 64 and you are also in one of the other groups which is eligible for the flu vaccination, for example you have a health condition which puts you at risk from flu, you will be invited earlier and should not delay getting the jab.
“I know some people choose not to have the jab because they have been ill afterwards or know someone who has been poorly afterwards but any side effects for the flu jab are rare. Some patients may experience a mild temperature or aching muscles for a couple of days, whereas flu can be extremely serious – especially for the most vulnerable people we look after. If you are worried about this, please speak to your GP or practice nurse.”
The flu vaccination offers an important health protection. Flu can lead to existing health conditions getting worse or the development of an illness such as bronchitis or pneumonia, or it could even be fatal. A vaccination helps protect the health of a pregnant mother and her child.
You can see the full list of those eligible for a flu vaccination by visiting: https://www.westleicestershireccg.nhs.uk/your-health-and-services/flu-safe