People aged over 65 years living across Bath and North East Somerset will receive a new type of flu jab this year, which is considered to be more effective than other available vaccines.
The new vaccine is one of three flu jabs that are available for the different groups of individuals who are eligible for a free vaccination, to make sure as many people as possible get the right jab to protect them against flu this winter.
Children aged from two years and up to school year five, pregnant women, anyone who is the main carer for another person or who is in receipt of carer’s allowance and those with long-term health conditions such as diabetes and asthma are also eligible for a free flu jab.
The newly available vaccine for the over 65s is expected to significantly boost effectiveness by improving the body’s immune response.
This is important because older adults’ bodies typically do not respond as well to the flu vaccine due to their naturally weaker immune systems. Older adults are also more likely to suffer complications from flu.
Dr Richard Sandford-Hill, a Wiltshire-based GP and a Clinical Board member of the B&NES, Swindon and Wiltshire Sustainability and Transformation Partnership, which is working to join up and simplify health and social care provision for people across the region, said: “Flu vaccinations are free for those who need them most, and they really do offer the best protection against catching flu.
“This year, those who are eligible across B&NES, Swindon and Wiltshire will be given the best type of vaccination for their individual needs.
“Flu is potentially a very serious illness and adults aged over 65 are more likely to catch it and suffer from the complications it causes than anyone else.
“The new enhanced vaccine for this age group will offer better protection as well as helping to reduce the spread of flu to those around them.”
This year’s NHS flu programme will also offer vaccinations to a larger group of children and all individuals aged under 65 years who fall into eligible groups will receive a vaccine that protects against four strains of flu.
The new vaccine for the over 65s is expected to reduce the number of GP consultations by 30,000, the number of people admitted to hospital by over 2,000 and prevent more than 700 deaths from flu across England, helping to reduce some of the health burden that flu can place on the NHS, workplaces and the wider population.
The flu vaccine will be available from early October. Eligible adults are encouraged to get their free vaccine from their GP or a pharmacy before the end of November to protect themselves and their families before flu reaches its seasonal peak.
It is the safest and single best way to protect against a potentially very serious illness.
If you are eligible or want to check whether you or someone close to you is, contact your GP, midwife or usual healthcare provider. Visit www.nhs.uk/staywell for more information.