While a lot of people have come forward for their COVID-19 booster vaccination when they have been offered it this winter, there has been a lower uptake in the flu vaccination programme in North Yorkshire.
Flu, short for influenza, is a common infectious viral illness spread by coughs and sneezes. It can prove fatal for vulnerable people, with those aged 65 and over and with long-term health conditions, including diabetes and kidney disease, particularly at risk.
Pregnant women are also at increased risk of serious complications.
While many people aged 65 and over have already come forward for their flu vaccination, there have been less people with underlying health conditions who have taken up the offer. Take up in pregnant women also lags behind other groups.
You are eligible for a free flu vaccine if:
- You are 50 and over (including those who’ll be 50 by 31 March 2022)
- Have certain underlying health conditions
- You are pregnant
- You 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
You can find out about eligibility, here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine/
If you are in one of these eligible cohorts, you can book an appointment at your GP surgery or a pharmacy that offers it on the NHS. You may also get an invitation to get the vaccine, but you do not have to wait for this before booking an appointment.
If you are not in an eligible cohort you can access a flu jab at any local pharmacy for a small cost.
Dr Bruce Willoughby, GP Clinical Lead for integrated / community care at NHS North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Getting your winter vaccines – whether that is your flu jab or your booster jab – is one of the most important things people can do for themselves and their families this winter.
“The threat of flu is still very much still around – it can cause serious illness and can even be fatal and the vaccination can be life saving. If you are eligible, you don’t have to wait to be called up – book your flu vaccine as soon as possible to help protect yourself and family this Christmas.”
If you have your vaccine at a pharmacy don’t worry about telling your GP surgery as this will be done for you.
If you have an appointment for a COVID-19 booster vaccine at a GP surgery or pharmacy, you may also be offered a flu vaccine at the same time. However, do not delay booking your flu vaccine appointment so that you can get both vaccines together as not everyone will be offered both vaccines at the same time.
If you have not been offered your COVID booster, booster vaccine doses will be available on the NHS for people over 40 and most at risk from COVID-19 who have had a 2nd dose of a vaccine at least three months ago. The NHS will be in touch with you when you can book an appointment.