Doctors in Milton Keynes are urging people to have the flu jab well before winter.
The vaccine is available from the NHS free of charge to those at risk including pregnant women, young children, over 65s, carers, people in long term care facilities and anyone with a long term health condition such as heart disease, breathing problems, diabetes, neurological conditions, cancer or liver disease.
Last winter in Milton Keynes and Bedfordshire over 1,500 people were admitted to hospital because of flu.
Overall, last year 48% of Milton Keynes residents who were entitled took up the offer of the free flu vaccine, and health leaders are keen for more people to get protection from the virus which can be life threatening.
The flu vaccine is safe and effective, and can reduce the chances of getting flu and its complications by 70% and of death from flu by 80%.
“Flu can make vulnerable people more likely to suffer complications such as bronchitis or pneumonia and can make existing conditions worse. Flu can result in hospital admission and even death, so the flu jab is vital,” said Dr Nicola Smith, GP Chair of NHS Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
“You can’t get flu from the jab. The vaccine stimulates your body’s immune system to make antibodies which attack the flu virus: flu vaccine changes every year to fight the latest strains of flu. Even if you had a jab last winter you need another one this year to stay safe from flu.
“Basic hygiene will help prevent the spread of flu. This means covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, washing hands with soap and water and throwing used tissues straight in the bin.”
Anyone in doubt about whether they qualify for a free vaccination can get more information here http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/pages/who-should-have-flu-vaccine.aspx or speak to their GP or pharmacist.