Posted by Amanda Crawford at 18/12/2018 10:50:19
Doctors in west Kent are urging those most at risk from flu to protect themselves and their families by taking up the offer of a free flu jab.
Flu is a highly infectious disease and can lead to serious complications if you have a long-term health condition like COPD, diabetes, heart, kidney or liver disease or have suffered a stroke. Flu on top of health conditions like these can easily develop into something very serious and lead to hospitalisation.
People with these and other long-term health conditions, as well as those aged over 65, pregnant women, children aged two and three, as well as school children from reception class through to year five, are eligible for the free flu vaccine. For eligible children, the flu vaccine is not an injection, just a quick nasal spray.
Dr Bob Bowes, chair of NHS West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Help us help you stay well this winter. It really is important for patients with long-term health conditions, such as diabetes, to make sure they have the flu vaccine.
“Speak to your GP or pharmacist now as having the vaccine is the best way of protecting yourself from contracting the flu virus and minimising any risk of more serious complications that might arise from infection caused by the flu virus.”
Flu vaccination is part of the Stay Well This Winter campaign, a joint initiative from NHS England and Public Health England, supported by Kent County Council (KCC), to help the public ward off common winter illnesses.
KCC Director of Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark, said: “Full protection from the vaccine can take up to two weeks to develop and people should act now to protect themselves against flu and make sure that flu doesn’t ruin their Christmas. Residents should contact their local GP or pharmacist as a matter of urgency.
“In recent years, hospitals across the region have been busy with people who could have been vaccinated. The flu vaccine can help protect you from flu and also reduce the chance of flu spreading to others.”
If you have a child aged two or three get them vaccinated against flu with the free nasal spray vaccine from your GP. School children from reception class through to year five will get their vaccinations through their school.
Pregnancy naturally weakens the body’s immune system and as flu can cause serious complications for you and your baby, pregnant women who get the flu may be less able to fight off infections, increasing the risk of becoming ill. The flu jab is the safest way to protect you and your baby against flu and you can have it at any stage of pregnancy, however fit and healthy you might feel. For more information, visit www.nhs.uk/staywell and www.kent.gov.uk/winterhealth