With the Christmas holidays fast approaching, NHS Gloucestershire is urging people to get their flu jab now to protect themselves and their loved ones from the effects of flu over the festive season.
Caryn Cox, Consultant in Public Health at NHS Gloucestershire said: "At this time of year, many of us are running around trying to get everything ready for Christmas, but don’t put your health at the bottom of the list. Flu is more common in the winter months, and the virus can be easily spread when people are out and about socialising, or visiting friends and family.
"For many people flu is unpleasant but not serious, but if you’re over 65, pregnant, or you have an existing long term medical condition, a bout of flu could have serious consequences. The simplest way to protect yourself is to get a jab. It takes seconds, but it could save you from complications like bronchitis and pneumonia, which can put you out of action for weeks or even months."
The seasonal flu vaccination is offered free of charge to people most at risk from flu. The eligible groups include:
- everyone aged 65 or over;
- pregnant women, at any stage of pregnancy;
- adults and children under the age of 65, with a long term condition, like diabetes, heart disease and asthma.
Caryn Cox added: "Some people still believe incorrectly that the flu vaccination can give you flu. This is a myth. The vaccination contains no live virus so it can’t give you flu, but it could save your life.
"You may have already been contacted by your GP to make an appointment for your flu jab. If you haven’t made your appointment, or you haven’t been contacted and think you may be eligible; call you GP today. Don’t leave it too late. If flu strikes and you haven’t had a vaccination you could be putting your health at risk."
If you have any questions about whether you need the flu jab or other concerns, talk to your GP or ring NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. For further information about keeping healthy this winter visit nhs.co.uk/winterhealth .
The Department of Health guidelines strongly recommend the flu vaccine for the following groups:
- everyone aged 65 or over
- all pregnant women (at any stage of pregnancy)
- everyone living in a residential or nursing home
- everyone who cares for an older or disabled person
- everyone under 65 years of age (including children, and babies of six months and older) with a serious medical condition such as
• chronic (long-term) respiratory disease, such as severe asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or bronchitis;
• chronic heart disease, such as heart failure;
• chronic kidney disease at stage 3, 4 or 5;
• chronic liver disease;
• chronic neurological disease, such as Parkinson's disease or motor neurone disease;
• diabetes; or
• a weakened immune system due to disease (such as HIV/AIDS) or treatment (such as cancer treatment). People with other long-term health conditions should check with their doctor.
- Frontline health and social care workers.