Health leaders across Bath and North East Somerset are urging people not to delay getting their flu jab if they are eligible for a free vaccination this winter.
People who are eligible include those who are aged over 65 years, pregnant women, anyone who is the main carer for another person or who is in receipt of Carers’ Allowance, and those with a long-term condition such as diabetes or asthma.
Children between the ages of two and eight years old are also eligible for the free nasal vaccination, which is quick, harmless and the best way to protect against catching flu this winter.
“If you or someone close to you falls into one of these categories, the flu vaccination is free because you or they really do need it.
“Whilst flu is usually a self-limiting illness, it can be very dangerous and cause serious complications for vulnerable groups such as those with long-term conditions, and pregnant women,” said Dr Ian Orpen, a Bath GP and the Clinical Chair of Bath and North East Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group.
This year, there is a particular emphasis in the BSW Sustainability and Transformation Partnership on carers taking up the offer of a free flu vaccination. A carer is someone of any age who looks after an elderly person or someone with a disability.
“Caring is an incredibly serious role and carers provide an invaluable service to the community,” said Rosie, a carer and former trustee of the Bath and North East Somerset carer Carers’ Centre.
“They care for family members and friends who may be elderly, disabled or have a serious long-term condition and it is vital that they look after their own health as well as the health of the person they care for,” she added.
“One winter I fell really ill, which made me very anxious that I might not be able to fulfil my caring role. So I urge anyone in a caring capacity to protect yourself this winter and have the free flu vaccination without delay,” said Rosie.
Flu is a highly infectious disease and can lead to serious complications if you have a long-term health condition like bronchitis or liver disease.
It can also cause serious complications for both mother and baby if pregnant women catch it. The flu jab is the safest way to protect yourself from illness this winter – however healthy you might otherwise feel.
If you are eligible or want to check whether you or someone close to you is, contact your GP, midwife or usual healthcare provider.
Some pharmacies are also able to provide the flu vaccination to certain eligible groups. Visit www.nhs.uk/staywell/ for more information.