As a major campaign launches to help keep people safe this winter, eligible people are being encouraged to get a free flu vaccination to help prevent serious illness.
Wiltshire Council and NHS Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group are supporting Public Health England’s Stay Well this Winter campaign, which launches today (October 12), and aims to ensure people who are most at risk from suffering ill-health this winter get the support they need to prevent them becoming poorly.
To help with this, all GPs throughout the county are offering free flu vaccinations to:
- all two, three or four year olds, i.e. born between 1 September 2011 and 31 August 2014
- those aged six months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups
- pregnant women
- those aged 65 years and over
- those in long-stay residential care homes
In addition to this, if they prefer, eligible adults can access their free vaccination at many pharmacies and this year, for the first time in Wiltshire (not including Swindon), all children in school years 1, 2 and 3, i.e. born between 1 September 2008 and 31 August 2011, will be able to access the immunisation directly at their school.
As there are many different flu strains which change each year, even if people had the vaccination last year they should still take up this year’s offer and protect themselves again from the virus.
Flu is not the same as the common cold. It is caused by a different group of viruses and often tends to start quicker, is more severe and lasts longer. Some people are more susceptible to the effects of flu and for them, it can increase the risk of developing more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia, or can make existing conditions worse. In the worst cases, flu can result in a stay in hospital, or even death.
Wiltshire Council cabinet member for public health, Jerry Wickham said: “I would urge those eligible not to put off getting the vaccine as it’s the safest and most effective way to help people protect themselves from flu and reduce the risk of falling seriously ill.
“Winter can be a difficult time for some but with the collective support from our partners and ourselves we hope to give people the best chance to be safe and well.”
Dr Richard Sandford-Hill, Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group added, “Flu is highly contagious and spreads rapidly, causing serious life threatening complications for those most at risk, such as the elderly, expectant mothers and people with long term conditions. Getting the vaccine is the best way to protect these vulnerable people from catching flu.
“I urge everyone who is offered the vaccine for free on the NHS to have it. Please don’t underestimate the severity of flu, get your jab now to protect yourself through the winter and stay flu safe.”
For advice and information about the flu vaccination, people should speak to their GP, practise nurse or pharmacist. For more information people should also visit www.wiltshire.gov.uk or www.wiltshireccg.co.uk.