BEST OF HEALTH: At-risk patients should get free flu jab

FLU JAB: patients entitled to free vaccinations should take advantage.
FLU JAB: patients entitled to free vaccinations should take advantage.

I think winter is finally upon us.

So it’s the perfect time for me to again remind the people in Hartlepool who are at risk from flu – including the parents of two and three-year-old children – to take up the offer of a free flu vaccination.

It is advised that all the vulnerable groups should protect themselves every winter by getting the vaccination.

A nasal spray vaccine is now offered to healthy two and three-year-old children in a bid to slow down the spread of the virus, and it means no scary needles for eligible kids.

This marks the first step in an extension to the national flu vaccination programme, which will eventually include yearly vaccination of all 2-16 year olds.

It’s also available for carers and health care staff.

For the majority of people, flu is an unpleasant, but not life-threatening illness.

However, it can be very serious for older people and for those groups which are at risk of developing complications.

They include those with weakened immune systems as well as underlying conditions such as neurological disorders, liver, lung or renal disease, heart problems or diabetes and pregnant women.

Vaccination remains the best way to protect against the potential serious harm from flu this winter. I urge everyone entitled to a free vaccination, to take up the offer – especially the parents of young children who qualify.

Each winter hundreds of thousands of people see their GP and tens of thousands are admitted to hospital.

You are 11 times more likely to die from flu if you are in a clinical at risk group so I would urge everyone who is eligible, to get the vaccine and help protect themselves and their families this winter.

The flu vaccine changes every year to fight the latest strains of flu.

So even if you had a vaccination last winter you need another one this year to stay safe from flu. 

Simply contact your GP surgery to arrange a convenient appointment and get you or your child vaccinated. It is quick, safe and free for those at risk from the virus and two and three year olds.

It is also important to remember that participating local pharmacies also offer the flu vaccination for free between October 1 and January 31. There is no need to book an appointment. All you need to do is check that your local pharmacy is taking part.

Flu vaccinations are available via your local pharmacy if you are over 65, pregnant or have one of the serious medical conditions which are outlined above.

I’ve kept calm and looked after myself by having my flu jab.