The expansion of the flu vaccination programme, which is taking place across the country, aims to both increase the number of people protected against flu and reduce the expected winter pressures on the NHS as it continues to deal with covid-19.
Flu is a serious condition that kills on average 11,000 people in England each year and hospitalises tens of thousands more. And this is anything but an average year. Adults at high risk from flu are also most at risk from covid-19. The free flu vaccine is more important than ever to help protect residents from a double threat this winter.
The flu vaccination is the best protection against flu. It is offered for free for those most at risk and people are urged to contact their GP practice now to find out how they can get theirs.
Currently those eligible for the free vaccination are:
· people aged 65 and over
· pregnant women
· people with certain health conditions, including kidney disease, asthma and heart disease
· carers and those in care homes
· frontline health and social care workers
· children over six months with a long-term health condition
· children aged two and three
· children in primary school
· children aged 11 by 31 August 2020
· anyone living in a household with somebody on the NHS shielded patient list
· those with a learning disability
It is likely that later in the year the programme will be widened to also include people aged 50 to 64 with no long-term health conditions.
Many areas of Tameside are finding innovative ways to make it as easy as possible to get the flu vaccine while maintaining social distancing.
For example, in Hyde people can book an appointment to get their free jab at a vaccination drive-thru. This means they can get their vaccination without even having to leave their car, all they need to do is drive to the site.
People can find out what their local arrangements are for getting their free vaccination by contacting their GP practice, looking on the practice website or asking a pharmacist. Anyone with a child at school and aged 4-11-years-old should remember to sign and return the consent form.
Tameside Council Executive Member Cllr Eleanor Wills, responsible for health, said: “It’s more important than ever this year that everyone who is eligible for a free flu vaccination gets one to protect themselves and others. GP practices have been working hard to find different, innovative ways to ensure people can get their vaccinations safely and easily and the drive thru at Hyde is a great example of this. Everyone should contact their own GP practice to see what the local arrangements are for getting their vaccination.”
The flu vaccine is given to adults and older children with an injection. Younger children are given the vaccine with a nasal spray – this can also be requested for people with a learning disability.
In previous years, some children have been unable to have the vaccine, as the nasal spray contains a small amount of porcine gelatine. Parents can now request their child is vaccinated with an injection – which does not include gelatine.