The flu vaccination programme is a crucial part of preparing the UK for winter. For many people, a bout of flu makes you feel miserable but is not a serious illness. If you are generally healthy, you will usually recover from it within a week. But flu can be a very serious illness and some people, especially those with long term health conditions, are more susceptible to the effects of flu. For them, it can increase the risk of developing more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia or can make existing conditions worse.
This year, with coronavirus in circulation, we want to reduce the risk of people catching coronavirus and flu at the same time and reduce the number of people admitted to hospital with complications. New research from Public Health England suggests that co-infection of both viruses brings a greater risk of more severe illness and death.
This is why it is really important that if you’re in an at-risk group, you are vaccinated for flu so you are protected this winter and hopefully prevent illness.
For the first time, the flu vaccination programme has been expanded this year to people in the age range 50 – 64 years. This is because from the age of 50, the risk of hospitalisation for coronavirus sharply increases and we want to prevent that. So if you fall into this age category, you will receive an invitation from your local practice to have the flu jab and I would strongly encourage you to take up that offer.
I would also encourage parents and carers of 2-3 year olds to get your children vaccinated. I’m pleased to say that the uptake of the vaccine among young children has increased this year in Doncaster but it is still less than 50% of eligible children. The vaccine is safe and for children, it is needle free in the form of nasal drops rather than an injection.
Pregnant women are also at risk of becoming seriously unwell if they catch the flu but many women do not consider having a jab, please speak to your midwife about getting vaccinated. It will protect you and your baby.
If you do not fall into the eligible criteria for a free flu jab, you may still be able to purchase one at your local pharmacy. It’s great that demand for these has been high this year and I know some people have struggled to get a private flu jab booked. However, pharmacies are receiving regular deliveries so please keep checking. Some pharmacies are also running waiting lists so it’s worth asking about this as well.
I had my jab back in September and I’m really pleased that many people have joined me, the uptake for the flu vaccination for the over 65s in Doncaster has risen significantly this year from 66.1% last year to 80.9% so far this year. This is great news and a good step to protect the health of Doncaster residents over this difficult winter period. It not too late and I would encourage those who have been invited for a flu jab but who have not yet responded to book an appointment. It’s quick, easy and many people don’t have any side effects – some may develop a cold or slight temperature but this should settle without treatment in a couple of days.
A flu jab protects you, your family and friends.
Remember, coronavirus and influenza can have similar symptoms:
- The most common symptoms of flu are fever, chills, headache, aches and pains in
- the joints and muscles, and extreme tiredness.
- The most common symptoms of coronavirus are a high fever, a new, continuous cough, a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.
If you think you have symptoms of coronavirus, please arrange to get a test.
We all have a responsibility to stay well this winter to help others. Let’s do it for Doncaster and be winter well.