Local GPs are calling for the thousands of people, who are at high risk of medical complications from seasonal flu, to get the free flu jab this autumn.
The NHS in West Sussex is offering the free flu jab to those most at risk of becoming very unwell if they contract the flu virus.
Dr Minesh Patel, Chair of Horsham and Mid Sussex CCG, was filmed making an online pledge to have his flu jab. The short clip was released on YouTube in a bid to encourage Dr Patel’s own patients to come foward for theirs.
A patient is eligible for the free flu vaccine if s/he: is aged 65 years and older; has an underlying health condition (such as a long term heart or respiratory disease); has a weakened immune system; is pregnant; is a main carer for an older or disabled person.
Children aged two and three will also be offered the vaccination at their GP practice. Children in reception class and years one, two, three and four will be offered it at their school.
If you are eligible for the jab, the seasonal flu vaccination is the best protection for you and your loved ones, and can help to stop the spread of flu in the community this winter.
Flu is a highly infectious disease and can lead to serious complications for those with long-term health conditions like bronchitis, diabetes, heart or liver disease. Catching flu on top of these can easily develop into something very serious and could get bad enough to require hospital treatment.
Despite this, thousands of people in West Sussex do not take up the offer for the free protection.
Last year 70% of people over the age of 65 had their jab, but only 45.8% of adults and children with long-term health conditions were vaccinated. That left more than 49,000 adults and children who are at risk of becoming very unwell from flu unprotected.
Similarly only 46.5% of pregnant women took up the invite to have the seasonal flu vaccination, leaving themselves at risk from the potentially serious health implications of the virus.
People in all of these groups are at particular risk from getting very ill from the flu and vaccination is the best protection we have against this unpredictable virus.
There have been a number of headlines about the strains of flu that have been circulating in Australia and New Zealand.
Each year, the World Health Organization reviews the circulating strains of flu and recommends which flu strains should go in the vaccine.
The strains of flu circulating in Australia this past winter have led to a significant increase in cases but it’s too early to know which will be the dominant strains of flu to circulate in England.
NHS West Sussex is stressing the importance of encouraging as many eligible people as possible get their jab, which it described as being “the best way to protect everyone from flu.”
If you are eligible for the flu vaccine, get it now – contact your GP practice to book into a flu clinic.