Carers are being urged to get a free flu vaccine to protect themselves and the people they look after this winter, as part of NHS England’s newly launched national flu campaign.
People over the age of 65, pregnant women, those with long term health conditions, school children from Reception to Year Four as well as two and three year olds are being targeted this year.
Many carers are unaware they are entitled to the annual free flu vaccine which can prevent them contracting the debilitating virus and avoid the serious consequences – not only for themselves – but also for those who depend on the care they provide.
Patients who need a carer are likely to be at greater risk of becoming more seriously ill from the flu than the general population, so it is important that their carers are protected against the virus. The free vaccination offers the best form of protection, to Stay Well This Winter.
NHS England’s Regional Medical Director (South), Dr Nigel Acheson said: “Many people think of flu as just a bad cold, but it’s much more serious than that.
“In particular, those with caring responsibilities need to be extra careful which is why it’s important that they know that they are entitled to have the free flu vaccination and avoid becoming unwell.”
Dr Ardiana Gjini, Public Health Screening and Immunisation lead for Bath, Gloucestershire, Swindon and Wiltshire said: “Getting flu could make you and your loved ones, particularly those that might already be not in best health, seriously ill. Speak to your GP or pharmacist about the flu vaccination.
“Better still you could accompany the person you care for and receive the vaccination at the same time.”
“The free flu vaccination is easily obtainable from GP surgeries or community pharmacies. This should be done as soon as possible ensuring that carers and the people they care for are protected at the earliest opportunity.”
Flu is highly infectious and caused by viruses that spread from person to person, and by touching a surface or object that has been contaminated by the virus, for example by someone sneezing.
The symptoms, that come on very quickly, include fever, chills, headaches, aches and pains in the joints and muscles, and extreme tiredness.
Dr Gjini said: “It’s really important that over 65s, pregnant women, and those in at risk groups get the vaccine as soon as possible. I would like to remind people that this vaccine is needed every year ahead of the flu season.
“While children in Reception to Year Four will be offered the vaccination in form of the nasal spray in schools, children aged two and three who have not started school will be vaccinated by their GP surgery. ”