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Free flu jabs for people with long-term health conditions

08 November 2014


Clinical commissioners and local councils are urging people with long-term health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory conditions and asthma to get a free flu vaccination.

Last year there were over 1,500 hospital admissions related to flu in Bedfordshire and in 421 cases flu made other health conditions worse. As many as 278 people across the county died from flu-related illness.

“Getting a flu jab is probably the most important thing someone with a longer-term health condition can do to stay healthy this winter,” said Bedfordshire GP Dr Fran Ross. “Flu is not the same as getting a cold. Its symptoms are more severe, last longer and for people with other health conditions, it can lead to more serious illnesses, even death.

“But flu is preventable and as a GP, I urge all my patients with underlying health conditions to get a free flu vaccination whether it’s at their GP surgery or at one of the local pharmacies in Bedfordshire offering free flu jabs to people at risk. It’s probably the most important thing they can do to stay healthy this winter.

“The flu vaccine has been thoroughly tested and is safe and effective. Side-effects are rare and minor compared to the risks associated with flu. I’ve just had my vaccination, to keep my patients safe this winter.”

People with diabetes, heart, respiratory or liver disease, Parkinson’s or motor neurone disease, or weakened immune systems are more likely to develop potentially serious complications if they catch flu and are eligible for a free flu jab. Free vaccinations are also available to anyone over the age of 65; young children aged two to four, pregnant women and carers.

It is important to have a vaccination every winter as the virus is constantly changing. Anyone in doubt about whether they qualify for a free vaccination should contact their GP. Family members of at risk groups are also urged to talk to their GP or local pharmacy about getting vaccinated.

A list of pharmacies in Central Bedfordshire and Bedford Borough offering free flu vaccinations to people with long-term health conditions is available here.

Cllr Carole Hegley, Executive Member for Adult Social Care, Health & Housing at Central Bedfordshire Council, added: “It is important to have a vaccination every winter as the virus is constantly changing. If anyone is in doubt about whether they qualify for a free vaccination please contact your GP. Family members of at risk groups are also urged to talk to their GP or local pharmacy about getting vaccinated. Free vaccinations are also available to anyone over the age of 65; young children aged two to four, pregnant women and carers.”

Cllr Colleen Atkins, Executive Member for Adults’ Services and Community Wellbeing at Bedford Borough Council said: “I have my flu jab every year and I thoroughly recommend that others have theirs. It is really important that people have a flu vaccination to protect both themselves and others. Flu can make you very ill and it can lead onto more serious conditions and in some cases can even result in death. I have never had an after-effect from the vaccine.”

 

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