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Stay well this winter: Have your free flu vaccination

Pregnant women, young children and people aged 65 and over are among those being urged by the NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to take advantage of free flu vaccinations this winter.

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

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

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. 

Pregnant women

The body’s immune system is weakened during pregnancy and so is less able to fight off infections. If you’re an expectant mother it is important to have the flu vaccination because flu can cause serious complications for you and your baby.

You can receive your free flu jab at any stage of your pregnancy from your GP, pharmacist or midwife.

Young children

Flu can be horrible for little children, and if they get it, they can spread it around the whole family. As well as developing the usual flu symptoms some children also develop a very high fever or complications, such as bronchitis or pneumonia, and may need hospital treatment.

The flu vaccine, which is a nasal spray rather than an injection, can help protect your child from flu and also reduce the chance of flu spreading to others.

Long-term health conditions

Those people with long-term health conditions such as COPD; bronchitis; emphysema; stroke; diabetes; or heart, kidney or liver disease could find that flu makes their condition worse and can easily develop into something very serious and require hospital treatment.

You are eligible for the free flu jab if you have any of these or other long-term health conditions.

Adults can receive their flu vaccination at their GP practice or local community pharmacy, while children aged 2-3 can be vaccinated with a nasal spray, which is administered by their GP. School children including reception and years 1-4 can also receive the flu vaccination nasal spray at school if their parents sign consent forms.

October and November is the best time to have a flu vaccination, as most GP surgeries arrange vaccination clinics during this time, but the flu vaccination is available throughout winter.

In healthy people, the symptoms usually clear up within a week but flu can be much more serious in people in certain at-risk groups, which is why they are being encouraged to have their free flu vaccinations as soon as possible.

Dr Andrew Phillips, a joint medical director at the CCG, said: “The winter months are here so the CCG would like to encourage the most vulnerable people in the Vale of York area to get their free flu jabs from their GP, local community pharmacy or midwife to protect themselves and others.

“If you are eligible for the flu vaccine, our advice is: get it now, it only takes a few minutes and is relatively painless. It’s free because you need it. Flu is a highly contagious infection that anyone can catch, and it can be a really serious illness for some people.”

Cllr Carol Runciman, City of York Council’s executive member for adult social care and health, said: “At City of York council we are supporting the campaign encouraging people to stay well this winter and are encouraging everyone to have a flu vaccine, it takes a few minutes and is available at all pharmacies.

“The impact of flu on frail and vulnerable people in communities and in care homes can be fatal so it is important we try to reduce the incidence of flu this winter in York and protect the health and wellbeing of our residents by getting vaccinated.”

Contact your GP practice, local community pharmacy or midwife to arrange a flu vaccination. For contact details of your local GP practice, visit www.nhs.uk

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