GPs from around Staffordshire are urging patients in vulnerable groups to get flu-fit as winter approaches.
Flu is unpleasant whoever you are. But for people in certain groups it is especially important to get immunised against flu as the impact can be more serious and lead to complications.
To support the fight against flu, thousands of primary-age schoolchildren in Staffordshire will soon be benefitting from their annual flu vaccination ahead of the winter season.
Pregnant women, parents of children aged 2 and 3 years old and adults with underlying health conditions are also being encouraged to take up the offer of a free vaccination from today (October 8).
The free flu vaccines are being offered to groups who are at particular risk of the virus.
Children aged 2 and 3 will receive the vaccine through their GP, while children in reception and school years 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 will receive it in school. Parents who have a child who is of the eligible age, are being asked ensure they sign the consent form allowing them to have the flu vaccine at school.
Thousands of children are expected to take up the offer of a free vaccination, which for pupils in primary schools comes in the form of a nasal spray.
Dr Mo Huda, a Staffordshire GP said: “I’ve had the jab because I don’t want to risk getting flu or passing it on to patients. I would rather help keep them healthy than risk making them seriously unwell.”
Those most at risk are all entitled to free immunisation. They include:
- Anyone aged over 65
- Anyone with a long-term-condition such as asthma, diabetes, a heart condition or with lowered immunity
- Children aged 2 and 3 and in reception class and school years 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5
- Children with certain health conditions from 6 months upwards
- Pregnant women
- Carers so they can’t pass on illness to the people they care for
Dr Huda said: “Immunisation against flu is effective and any side-effects are negligible compared to the impact of flu. It is a must for anyone in the vulnerable groups and the best way to stay protected.”
And he added: “Please remember that flu is caused by a virus and antibiotics are ineffective against it. Prevention is best.”
Dr Huda features in a number of YouTube videos about flu immunisation, each aimed at specific groups.
Parents with young children who will receive a nasal spray
People aged over 65
The rest of the videos can be seen on the Staffordshire & Stoke-on-Trent CCGs Youtube channel here.
Alan White, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health, Care and Wellbeing, said: “Schools can make very good breeding grounds for illnesses like flu, because children don’t tend to use tissues or wash their hands as much as adults. The virus is then at risk of being transferred to more vulnerable people such as the elderly and those with existing health problems.
“Children under the age of 5 are more likely to be admitted to hospital with flu than any other age group. It can be a very unpleasant illness in children because their immune systems are not fully developed and they suffer the same symptoms as adults.
“Nursing teams in schools right across the county will be administering the flu vaccine to school pupils, and I hope that as many eligible children as possible take up the vaccine. The vaccination is given as a nasal spray which is a safe and effective way of protecting not only the children themselves, but the people they may come into contact with.”
For more information on the free vaccine, speak to your local school or GP, or visit www.nhs.uk/fluvaccine for more information.