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NHS launches largest flu campaign – and we want to ensure you get vaccinated this autumn

NHS launches largest flu campaign – and we want to ensure you get vaccinated this autumn
30 September 2020

NHS and council leaders are coming together to ask people to ensure they get their flu jab this year in what will be the biggest vaccination campaign ever seen.

Each year the flu vaccination is available to help protect adults and children at risk from flu and its complications, but this year it’s going to be bigger than ever before as more people are eligible for the free vaccination.

This year we’re sharing the message that what may appear to be ‘just flu’ can lead to long-term health complications.

Those who are in certain at risk categories, such as over 65 and under 65s with a long term condition, are more likely to be at risk of developing complications if they catch flu.

By getting the vaccine this year, not only will you be protecting yourselves but your loved ones too this winter.

Dr Zaid Hirmiz, a GP from Horndean Surgery, said: “This year will be the biggest flu vaccination campaign that we have embarked on yet.

“We will be vaccinating more people than ever as we have expanded the groups of people eligible for the free flu jab.

“The flu vaccine may be given to 50-64 year olds; more information will be available later in autumn.

“Because we know we still have coronavirus in our community, some practices and pharmacies might be carrying out their vaccination clinics differently this year.

“This could involve booked appointments, vaccinations in car parks or community buildings and separate clinic groups for our ‘at risk’ patients.

“You may also see staff wearing face masks and lots more handwashing and use of hand sanitiser. Please feel assured these measures are in place to help keep you and our staff as safe as possible.

“We know some people will be feeling anxious, worried or scared about having their vaccination, however it is far better to be protected from flu, than go without.”

You can watch a video of Dr Hirmiz having his flu jab.

This year, the NHS is aiming to vaccinate around 4.5 million people in the South East – up from 2.6 million last winter.

For the first time, children in school Year 7, and household contacts and carers of those on the NHS Shielded Patient List, are all eligible for the free vaccination. These groups are in addition to people aged over 65, those under 65 with long-term health conditions, pregnant women, children aged two and three and children in primary school.

John Knighton, medical director at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust, said: “Given the Covid-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever for anyone who can be vaccinated against the flu to take the time to do so.

“Our staff are already stepping up to ensure they are vaccinated and able to play their role in reducing the spread of the flu virus this winter, however we would encourage the general public to also get behind the campaign.

“The government has increased the number of people able to access the vaccine free this year so please get in touch with your GP or local pharmacy to check whether you are eligible and help us keep you safe.”

Along with NHS staff, health and care workers across the community will also be offered a free flu jab.

Dominique Le Touze, public health consultant at Portsmouth City Council, said: “This year with both the flu virus and Covid-19 circulating, flu immunisation is more important than ever to reduce infections, protect each other and protect the NHS.

“There is an expanded list of priority groups this year which includes offering the vaccine to children aged from two to 11. This will be offered in schools for children in Years R to 7 and we ask all parents to look out for the invitation. For pre-school children from age two the vaccination will be available at your GP surgery. Children are offered a nasal vaccination.  

“We want to you to look after yourself and protect the NHS by having the flu jab.”

Flu is a highly infectious disease that is spread from person to person and infects the respiratory system, where it can lead to pneumonia and other complications.

The flu viruses are constantly changing and this is one of the main reasons why people should be vaccinated annually.

The symptoms, that come on very quickly, include fever, chills, headaches, aches and pains in the joints and muscles, and extreme tiredness.

Please visit your practice website or speak to your pharmacy about booking a test.

If you have a high temperature, new, continuous cough or a loss of taste and smell, then please do not visit your GP practice or pharmacy. Please self-isolate and contact 119 or visit NHS.uk/coronavirus to book a coronavirus test.

If you test positive for coronavirus then please do not attend a flu clinic – contact them to rearrange your appointment.

Ends

Notes to editors

Each year the vaccination is free for people most ‘at risk’ of having severe flu:

  • anyone aged 65 and over
  • pregnant women
  • children and adults aged 6 months to 65 years with an underlying health condition (such as long-term heart or respiratory disease, weakened immune system or have a learning disability)
  • children aged 2 and 3 on 31 August 2020
  • children in primary school
  • carers
  • people living in long stay residential care homes
  • frontline health or social care workers

 And this year it has also been expanded to include the following groups of people too:

  • people living with someone who's at high risk from coronavirus (on the NHS shielded patient list)
  • children in year 7 (secondary school)
  • People aged 50 to 64 without a long-term condition (from November onwards if sufficient vaccine stock is available)

Unsure whether to have your flu vaccine? Who hope the below Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) will help.

What is flu?

Flu is an unpleasant disease that spreads quickly and easily through coughing and sneezing. Flu can also give you headaches, a sore throat, fever, chills, and muscle and joint aches. Those people who are at risk, either because of their age or medical conditions, may develop complications such as chest infections and pneumonia.

Why get the vaccine?

The vaccine provides the best available protection against flu. It is not 100% but it will protect a significant number of people and reduce the severity of flu if you get it. It could also help your relatives or carers because you will not be passing the disease to them.

I’ve heard that the vaccination can give you flu. Is that true?

No; the flu vaccine that is given to adults is made from dead flu virus and cannot cause the infection. The flu vaccine that will be given to most children is a live vaccine, but the viruses in it have been weakened so they can not cause flu. You may get some side effects after the vaccination but these are quite mild like a slightly raised temperature or aching muscles for a couple of days or an ache in the arm where the injection was given. Other reactions are very rare.

When can I get the vaccine?

You can get the vaccination either at your GP practice or local pharmacy.

Will the flu vaccine protect me against coronavirus?

Getting a flu vaccine will not protect against coronavirus. However, the flu vaccination has many other important benefits. Flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalisation and death.

I think I have coronavirus symptoms – should I still come in for a vaccination?

The symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • A new continuous cough
  • A high temperature
  • A loss of taste and/or smell

If you have these symptoms you should not be visiting your GP or pharmacy for a flu vaccination and should reschedule for 10 days after your symptoms started or when you receive a negative coronavirus test result.