Published October 13, 2016 at 14:42
Blackburn with Darwen health bosses are calling on those at greatest risk from flu to protect themselves and their families with a free flu jab.
As the autumn sets in and winter approaches, it’s time for people to make sure they get the vaccine as this year’s flu campaign gets underway.
Flu is a highly contagious infection that anyone can catch, and it can be a really serious illness for some. Those at greater risk include people of all ages with a health condition such as severe asthma, chest or heart complaints and diabetes, pregnant women and children aged 2 to 4.
The vaccination campaign by NHS England and Public Health England is being rolled out to include more children this year in a bid to curb the spread of the illness.
Children aged two to four can get the vaccination from their GP and those in school years 1, 2 and 3 will be offered the free nasal spray vaccination at school.
It is the first time those in Year 3 have been offered the immunisation.
Giving a child the nasal spray will immunise them against the virus while helping to protect the wider community, health officials said.
The flu vaccine changes every year to fight the latest strains of flu, so even if you had a jab last winter you need another one this year. The jab doesn’t contain the ‘live’ virus so it cannot give you the flu.
The best time to be vaccinated is at the start of the flu season from October to early November, so it’s good to get in early in time for the winter.
Contact your GP or pharmacist to arrange a convenient appointment and get your jab. It’s quick, safe and free for those most at risk from the virus.
Councillor Mustafa Desai, Executive Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said:
If you have a long-term health condition, even one that is well managed, or you are pregnant, you are at greater risk of severe complications if you catch flu. Don’t put off getting the free flu vaccination; if you’re eligible get it now. It’s free because you need it.
Dr Pervez Muzaffar, a Darwen GP and Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group Lead for Health and Wellbeing, added:
Flu is a nasty disease which can have serious consequences for people in at risk groups. It is vital that those who are eligible have the flu vaccine as it protects against different strains of flu which evolve each year.
Kelly Taylor, Commissioning Lead for Maternity, Children & Families at East Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Groups, said:
It is really important that all pregnant women book an appointment with their GP practice for a free flu vaccine. Flu can be serious for unborn and new-born babies and can lead to premature birth, low birth weight or a stillbirth. Not only will it protect mum against flu, but it means the baby will also develop some immunity as the antibodies will be passed through the placenta.
We’d also encourage parents and carers to ensure children take up the vaccine through school or their GP practice if not school age.