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GPs urge people at risk to get flu jab to stay well this winter

24 September 2015

GPs are urging people to have the flu jab as winter approaches, and say it is especially important for people who are at risk of more serious health complications from flu.

Last winter, 500 people in Bedfordshire died as a result of flu-related complications.

The flu jab is available from the NHS free of charge to people who are at risk including:

Those aged 65 years or over

Pregnant women

People with long-term health conditions including heart disease, breathing problems, diabetes,

People with neurological conditions, such as MS or cerebral palsy

People with lowered immunity due to disease or treatment such as cancer therapy

Those with spleen problems such as sickle cell disease or who had their spleen removed

Carers and people living in care homes

Children aged of two to four and those in school years one and two.

Dr Dayo Kuku, Respiratory and Cardiology Clinical Lead GP for Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (BCCG) said: “Flu can make vulnerable people more susceptible to developing complications such as bronchitis or pneumonia and can make existing conditions worse. In the worst cases flu can result in hospital admission and even death. It is therefore very important for people in the at risk groups to be vaccinated.

“You can’t get flu from the jab. The vaccine stimulates your body's immune system to make antibodies which attack the flu virus: flu vaccine changes every year to fight the latest strains of flu. Even if you had a jab last winter you need another one this year to stay safe from flu.

“Basic hygiene will help prevent the spread of the flu virus. This means covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, washing hands with soap and water and throwing used tissues straight in the bin.”

Anyone in doubt about whether they qualify for a free vaccination should contact their GP.

People who are eligible for the free NHS flu jab can get it from their GP or from many local pharmacies. Anyone who is not eligible for a free flu jab can still receive the vaccination from their local pharmacy for a small fee.

Frontline health and social care workers are being offered flu vaccination by their employer, to protect patients. Family members of people who are eligible for the free flu jab are also urged to talk to their GP or pharmacy about getting vaccinated.

Information about flu vaccine is available from http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/pages/flu-influenza-vaccine.aspx

Influenza commonly known as flu is a highly infectious viral illness which can lead to complications with hospital admissions and even death. Symptoms of flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, body aches and fatigue.

Last year 94,921 people who were registered with Bedfordshire GP received a free flu vaccination, but another 60943 who were eligible did not. 2700 Bedfordshire residents were admitted to hospital with flu-related complications, with a cost to the health service of £9.56 million. Among those admitted, 501 died as a result of flu-related complications.

The flu vaccine contains three commonly circulating flu strains and provides full protection against these strains. It is important to have a vaccination every winter as the virus is constantly changing.

Information about vaccines which contain porcine gelatine can be found on the Public health England website. Fluenz Tetra, the nasal spray vaccine that protects children against flu contains porcine gelatine. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/460069/8584-Vaccines-porcine-gelatine-2015-2P-A4-04-web.pdf

If you think you need to see a doctor but your surgery is closed or you can’t get an appointment, phone 111. You can call 111 for advice 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and it’s free. You can also go to your nearest Walk In or Urgent Care Centre and be seen quickly: don’t forget, A&E is only for life threatening emergencies

Pharmacies can provide advice as well as over the counter remedies and can help you decide whether or not you need to see a doctor.

Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group is responsible for planning, organising and buying NHS-funded healthcare for the 441,000 people who live in Bedfordshire. This includes hospital, community health and mental health services.

BCCG is run by GPs, nurses, hospital doctors and other clinicians – the people you see whenever you come into contact with the NHS. All 55 GP practices in Bedfordshire are members of the CCG which is divided into five areas, which we call localities. These are: Bedford, Chiltern Vale, Leighton Buzzard, Ivel Valley and West Mid Bedfordshire and all of the 55 GP practices in Bedfordshire are members.

You can read more about how BCCG is organised in our constitution. It explains how we operate, make decisions and our governance structures and processes. You can also read our corporate plan which sets out our priorities and aims for 2014-15.


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