NHS leaders urge eligible people to book in for flu jabs as hospitals begin to see cases

Posted Tuesday, November 23, 2021 5:07 PM

Members of the public who are eligible for a free flu vaccination are being urged to book in as soon as possible ahead of the Winter months.

The plea comes after local hospitals have begun to see cases of flu already this season.

Flu can cause severe illness and even death among vulnerable groups, as well as complications like bronchitis and pneumonia, so it is particularly important to have the flu vaccine.

More people are likely to get the flu this winter as fewer people have build up natural immunity during the Covid-19 pandemic. Research has also shown getting flu and Covid-19 at the same time is likely to make people seriously ill, so getting vaccinated against both will provide protection against both serious illnesses.

The Flu vaccine is available free of charge on the NHS if you:

  • are 50 and over (including those who'll be 50 by 31 March 2022)
  • have certain health conditions
  • are pregnant
  • are in long-stay residential care
  • receive a carer's allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
  • live with someone who is more likely to get infections (such as someone who has HIV, has had a transplant or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis)
  • frontline health or social care workers
  • children in specific age groups or with long-term health conditions.

People in eligible groups can receive their free flu vaccine at their GP practice, a pharmacy offering the service, midwifery service if pregnant or at a hospital appointment. Eligible children can receive their vaccine via their school immunisation programme or at a GP practice – read more here.

Dr Stephen Shortt, Joint Clinical Leader at the NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire CCG, said: “It’s more important than ever this year that those eligible for their free Flu vaccine take up the offer to help protect themselves ahead of Winter.

“Getting vaccinated will not only help protect people and their families, but it’ll also help to support the NHS at a time where our health service is facing extreme pressures.  I would urge all people who fit into the key groups to think about being vaccinated this year, it could save lives and help to maintain key services.”

Michelle Rhodes, Chief Nurse at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust said: “We are starting to see flu cases in our hospitals and we are doing all we can to keep everyone safe through our staff vaccination programme. We strongly urge the public to take up the offer of a free flu jab this winter, especially if you are aged 50 or over, have certain health conditions, are pregnant, are in long-stay residential care or if you live with someone who is more likely to get infections. 

“Getting your flu jab is particularly important because more people are likely to get flu this winter as fewer people will have built up natural immunity to it during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Chief Nurse for Sherwood Forest Hospitals, Julie Hogg, said: “We have started to see cases of flu in our hospitals, so we would urge anyone who is eligible for their flu jab to get it as soon as they possibly can to help protect themselves.“We know that flu activity levels were extremely low globally in 2020/21 and as a result, a lower level of population immunity against flu is expected in 2021/22. We know this winter is going to be busy and that the flu season could be up to 50% larger than we have typically seen previously, so we are urging people to protect themselves now ahead of the winter months.”

More information on who is eligible for the flu vaccine is available here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/who-should-have-flu-vaccine/

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