‘At risk’ people in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin urged to get the flu jab

People across Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin are being urged to get their flu jab ahead of a winter, where both flu and Covid-19 will be circulating, as a way of protecting themselves and reducing pressure on local services.

At a time of increased publicity around cases of Covid-19 and the vaccination programme, clinicians in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin are warning those eligible not to forget to get their free flu jab when invited by their GP practice or by going to a community pharmacy to increase their protection against this winter disease.

On average around 11,000 people die each year in England from flu and there are fears the death toll could be much higher from a lack of exposure last winter due to social distancing.  

According to modelling from the Academy of Medical Sciences, a lack of population immunity due to its suppression over the past year by Covid restrictions could contribute to between 15,000 and 60,000 flu deaths.

Dr John Pepper, Chair of Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “I would strongly urge everyone who is eligible for the free flu jab to take this opportunity to protect themselves and other vulnerable people.

“For the first time we will have Covid-19 and flu co-circulating. Not many people got flu last year because of Covid-19 restrictions, so there isn’t as much natural immunity in our communities as usual. If people get flu and Covid-19 at the same time, research shows they are more likely to be seriously ill.

“The flu vaccine is a lifesaver because flu is a highly contagious disease which for some people can lead to serious and sometimes life-threatening consequences. Having the flu vaccine will also stop you spreading flu to other people who may be more at risk of serious problems from flu. So, if you are offered a flu vaccination this year, please accept it.”

People who are ‘at risk’ of flu are already at higher risk from contracting coronavirus.

Research shows that if someone has flu and Covid-19 at the same time, they are more likely to become seriously ill.

The flu vaccination is one of the most effective interventions to reduce harm from flu and pressures on health and social care services during the winter.

Rachel Robinson, Director of Public Health for Shropshire, said: “Our health and care services have been working incredibly hard to cope with the Coronavirus pandemic.

“Let’s not put them under extra pressure with a flu outbreak when we can take simple steps to prevent it.

“Proper flu isn’t just a cold; if you catch it, you could end up seriously ill or in hospital. With both COVID and flu circulating at the same time this winter, there is a real risk that residents could be infected with both.

“A good way to avoid that happening it to make sure as many people as possible are protected. That’s why I’ve had my flu jab to protect myself, my patients and my family.”

This year the flu vaccine is being offered free on the NHS to people who:

  • are 50 and over (including those who’ll be 50 by March 31 next year);
  • have certain health conditions;
  • are pregnant;
  • are in a long-stay residential care;
  • receive a carer’s allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick;
  • live with someone who is more likely to get infections (such as someone who has HIV, has had a transplant or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis);
  • frontline health or social care workers.

The children being offered the vaccine this year, are:

  • all children aged two or three on August 31 this year;
  • all primary school-aged children;
  • all Year 7 to Year 11 secondary school-aged children;
  • children with a health condition that puts them at greater risk from flu.

Children aged two and three will be given the vaccination at their general practice usually by the practice nurse. School-aged children and young people will be offered the flu vaccine in school. For most children, the vaccine will be given as a spray in each nostril. This is a very quick and painless procedure.

If you aren’t eligible for a free flu jab you are able to pay for one at your local pharmacist.

The Covid-19 booster vaccination programme will run alongside this year’s flu vaccinations.

For more information about the flu vaccine, visit: Flu vaccine - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

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