29 September 2014

As the autumn sets in and winter approaches, it's time for those at greatest risk from flu to protect themselves and their families, and get flu safe with a free flu jab.

About flu

Flu is a highly contagious infection with symptoms that come on very quickly. In most cases, the symptoms are mild, but in others they can be very serious. Those at greater risk from flu include people aged 65 or over, pregnant women and those with health conditions such as severe asthma, chest or heart complaints and diabetes.

Who should get the vaccination?

Northamptonshire County Council and NHS Nene Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is encouraging everyone who knows anyone who may be at risk from flu to tell them how important it is that they get protected. People who are carers and frontline health and social care staff are also encouraged to get a free jab to protect themselves and those around them.

For the first time this year the flu vaccination is also being offered to children aged 2, 3 or 4 years. This is to protect them against the disease and help reduce its spread to other children, including their older brothers and sisters, and, of course, their parents. For most children the vaccine will be given as a spray in each nostril. This is very quick, effective and a painless procedure and parents will be invited into their surgery for these vaccinations in the coming weeks.

The best time to be vaccinated is at the start of the flu season from October to early November, so it's good to get in early and get flu safe in time for the winter.

Simply contact your GP practice to arrange a convenient appointment and get your jab. It’s quick, safe and free for those most at risk from the virus.

For more information, speak to your GP or local pharmacist, or visit www.nhs.uk/flu

Darin Seiger, GP Chair of NHS Nene Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "Flu is not like a cold – it can be a really serious illness for some people and it doesn't just affect older people. If you're pregnant, have lowered immunity or a long-term health condition such as severe asthma, a chest or heart complaint, or diabetes, then you should also get a free flu jab from your GP. The flu jab is completely safe, and it won’t give you any flu symptoms.

"Flu can increase the risk of developing more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and can make existing conditions much worse. It can knock you off your feet and make it hard to look after your family or go to work. In the most serious cases, seasonal flu might land you in hospital - it can even be a killer, which is why it is so important to make people aware to get the free flu jab."

"Many patients tell me that they are worried that they may get flu and feel unwell if they have a flu jab. Let me reassure everyone that the vaccination doesn’t contain the 'live' virus so it cannot give you the flu."

Councillor Robin Brown, cabinet member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: "It’s important that you think about getting a flu vaccination this season.

"If you’re in any of the 'at risk' groups the flu jab is completely free and is a safe way of protecting you and your family in a matter of minutes. And remember, you need to have it every year to stay safe."