Bradford district and Craven health services are delivering free injections and nasal sprays to protect those most at risk from flu and to help keep people well and ease pressure on urgent care services.
The vaccinations are particularly important this year with the added threat of coronavirus (COVID-19) as people at high risk from coronavirus are also those most at risk from flu.
Flu can be a dangerous illness for people who have existing health problems such as heart, lung, liver, kidney, spleen or neurological diseases, diabetes, stroke or a lowered immune system. People in these clinically at risk groups are 11 times more likely to experience complications if they get the flu than those not in this group.
Local health workers are looking to protect those most at risk from flu during the colder months and prevent the thousands of deaths nationwide caused by the virus.
The most vulnerable will be prioritised first, including: pregnant women, children aged 2 and 3, people aged 65 and over; and those with eligible long term health conditions.
People do not need to contact their GP practice: GPs will be sending appointments to people who are eligible for a flu vaccine over the coming months. If you receive an invite it is very important that you attend the appointment.
Health and social care workers may also be contacted by their employer to receive a free flu vaccination and should follow their instructions for getting the vaccination.
Parents of school aged children are also being encouraged to make sure they’ve filled out their vaccination consent forms correctly to ensure their child gets the nasal spray in school – helping prevent the spread of flu to other family members.
Sarah Muckle, Director of Public Health for Bradford Council, says: “If you are contacted by your GP practice or employer, it’s because you need to protect yourself from the flu. Making an appointment to have a quick and simple vaccination is a lot quicker than suffering from the flu for several days. We would particularly encourage older people, those in at risk groups health groups and mums-to-be to make sure they have their flu jab to protect themselves. Studies have shown that it is safe to have the vaccine during any stage of the pregnancy and you can pass on protection to your baby for the first few months of their life. Even if you’ve already had a flu jab in previous years, you need another one this year because the viruses that cause flu are always changing.”
Dr Dave Tatham, GP and strategic clinical director for NHS Bradford District and Craven Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “It is not ‘just the flu’. For most healthy people flu is an unpleasant illness, but one they will recover from in a few days after getting lots of rest, drinking plenty of fluids and using over-the-counter remedies such as paracetamol. Flu can be very serious for those with existing health problems. It kills thousands of people each year and leaves tens of thousands more needing treatment in hospital. The best way of protecting yourself and avoiding the more serious complications from flu is to get the vaccination, so it is essential that you attend the appointment if you receive an invitation. GP practices are working hard to reorganise their usual flu clinics to make sure they are safe for staff and patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing means it will take longer to vaccinate everyone who is eligible this year and I would urge people to be patient and understanding with staff at their GP practice who are working hard to deliver this vaccine to huge numbers of patients in difficult circumstances.”
You can also prevent the spread of the virus by always carrying a tissue and using them to catch coughs or sneezes, disposing of the tissue and then washing your hands.
If you aren’t getting any better, then stay at home or call 111 for non-urgent medical advice.
The vaccine for all children aged 2-17 is a safe and effective nasal spray which provides a more effective protection against flu vaccination in this age group. Children who are allergic to eggs, have severe asthma or a severely weakened immune system should speak with their GP practice team to ensure your child is protected in the best way.
For more information about flu – symptoms, treatment and who is eligible for a flu jab, go to nhs.uk/flu