Milton Keynes MPs Mark Lancaster and Iain Stewart have urged those in Milton Keynes who are at risk of developing serious health problems if they catch flu to get their free NHS vaccination before the cold weather bites.
The MP’s call comes as it emerged that 31,836 people missed out on protection last year across Milton Keynes, many of whom will have caught the virus and needed NHS treatment as a result.
While flu is a common ailment and many people can get over it with rest and fluids, for some people in high-risk groups, such as the elderly and those with long-term conditions, it can lead to serious and potentially life-threatening complications, such as pneumonia or bronchitis.
Last year seasonal flu put a significant strain on all parts of the NHS, with the proportion of peak-period GP appointments and 111 calls related to flu around double the previous year, and more than 1 in 8 of all A&E consultations being for acute respiratory infections.
And official figures published last month showed that more than 2.6million bed days were lost to flu and pneumonia last year in English hospitals, up more than 20% - or almost 460,000 bed days – over five years, the equivalent of two large hospitals.
Milton Keynes North MP Mark Lancaster said: “Catching the flu is miserable for any of us, but if you’re older or have existing health problems, it can lead to a serious health risk. So if you, a relative or your children are eligible for a free NHS flu vaccination, making sure you or they take it up this winter is really important.”
Milton Keynes South MP Iain Stewart added: “Too many people are missing out. Last winter we saw the impact that a bad flu strain can have on NHS services. MK Hospital and our GPs are once again preparing for this winter. But we need to help them to help us. Make sure you get your free NHS flu vaccination.”
This year, more people than ever – around 22 million - will be offered the vaccination. This will once again include social care workers, who were offered free vaccinations for the first time last year, as well as hospice staff for the first time.
There are sufficient vaccine stocks to meet anticipated demand for all eligible groups; the first waves have been delivered to GPs and pharmacists, with more arriving over the coming weeks ahead of the flu season.
If your local GP or pharmacist does not have stock the day you go in for vaccination, they will talk you through nearby and convenient alternative providers, or be able to give you a date to return to get your jab there.