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Help us help you this winter by getting your flu vaccination – it’s free because you need it

NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group and City of York Council are encouraging eligible people in the local area to take up the offer of a free flu vaccine to help them stay well during winter.

You are eligible for a free flu vaccination, which is available every year via NHS services, if you are one of the following:

Eligible adults can have their flu vaccination at their GP practice or a participating community pharmacy, while children aged two or three can have the flu vaccination nasal spray administered by their GP. School children (reception class and years one to five) can receive the nasal spray at school if parental consent is given.

Eligible people will be contacted by their GP practice when the vaccines are available, but alternatively they could have their vaccine at a participating community pharmacy without an appointment. Pregnant women can contact their midwife to arrange a flu vaccination, and can also have their vaccine at participating community pharmacies.

October and November is the best time to have a flu vaccination to ensure you’re protected in plenty of time before the flu season starts, but the vaccine is available throughout winter.

This year people aged 65 and over are being offered different type of vaccine - an adjuvanted vaccine, which is designed to boost the immune system of the 65 and over age group and provide better protection than in the past.

The 65 and over vaccine will be available in stages throughout October and November, meaning they will be vaccinated in plenty of time before the flu season begins.

A video summarising this winter’s flu vaccination programme can be viewed here, while a video explaining how the flu vaccine will be delivered for people aged 65 and over this winter is available here.

Flu symptoms can develop quite suddenly and severely, and usually include fever, chills, headaches and aching muscles. You might also suffer from a dry, chesty cough, sore throat and feel tired and weak.

In healthy people, the symptoms usually clear up within a week but flu can be much more serious in people in these at-risk groups, which is why they are being encouraged to have their free flu vaccinations – it’s free because they need it.

If you’re not eligible for a free flu vaccine you may be able to have it at a pharmacy or supermarket. The cost of these vaccines start from around £7. Click here to watch a video explaining more.

The free flu vaccination initiative forms part of NHS England and Public Health England’s Help Us Help You campaign, which is designed to help the public protect themselves against common winter illnesses.

Dr Kevin Smith, NHS Vale of York CCG Executive Director of Primary Care and Population Health, said: “Real flu is a horrible illness, even for the fittest people but it can be a really serious illness for some of us, particularly older people, pregnant women, young children and those with chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Flu is easy to catch but even easier to prevent. The annual flu vaccine is the best protection we have against flu so if you are eligible for a free flu vaccine you should book an appointment now.

“There’s a misconception that you can catch flu from the vaccine but this is simply not true. Some people may have a sore arm, mild fever or aching muscles for a couple of days after they get the jab, but these are nothing compared to the misery and inconvenience of real flu.

“It only takes a few minutes to get protected with your annual flu vaccine. I’d encourage anyone with questions about the annual flu vaccine to ask their GP, local community pharmacist or midwife.”

Councillor Carol Runciman, City of York Council’s Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Health and Chair of the city’s Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “Getting a flu vaccine is one of the quickest, and most effective, things you can do to stay well this winter.

“The impact of flu on frail and vulnerable patients in communities and in care homes can be fatal and is why it is so important everyone is vaccinated.

“We would like to encourage people in York, especially those who fall into the key groups, to contact either their GP or visit their local community pharmacist to arrange to receive the flu vaccine.”

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