People in Cumbria are being reminded that it’s not too late to get a flu vaccination to boost their immunity over the remaining winter months.
Although the days are getting longer and Spring is in sight, the colder weather can often be an issue for patients with respiratory issues and the flu vaccination is recommended to help ahead of further cold conditions.
This year there has again been a high uptake across Cumbria with around 84% of Cumbrians over 65 receiving their flu jab. People of all ages are reminded that there is still time for everyone to come forward for the vaccination as the invitation does not expire.
Health professionals are particularly encouraging those who are pregnant to get their flu jab, as there is evidence that flu can cause complications, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy.
NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group’s Clinical Lead for Children Dr Amanda Boardman said:
"It's not too late and we are still encouraging everyone to get their flu jab. Flu changes every year and the jab is a simple procedure which could ultimately save lives, especially if you are already living with a long term condition, either very young or very old, or have other risk factors.
"If you are pregnant it is highly recommended that you don't delay in getting your free flu vaccine, whatever stage of pregnancy you’re at. The jab will help protect both you and your baby. Women who have had the flu vaccine while pregnant also pass some protection on to their babies, which lasts for the first few months of their lives."
Some people may think the risk of flu is over but it can often strike in late winter and even in the spring. The flu is an unpredictable virus and some people are at risk of developing potentially serious complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia.
Dr Lauren Dixon, Barrow GP and GP Executive Lead for Integrated Care at Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group said:
"We are still encouraging local people to have their flu vaccination in order to protect themselves, their loved ones and people in the local community.
"The flu can be very serious for vulnerable groups or those already ill in hospital and undergoing treatment. If you do catch flu, we would advise that you stay at home, get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids and use paracetamol or ibuprofen to control your temperature and treat aches and pains.”
Colin Cox, Cumbria County Council’s Director of Public Health, said:
"The vaccine remains the best defence we have to protect against the spread of flu.
"If you've not had your jab, it's not too late - but don’t delay. It's available from most GP surgeries and local pharmacies.
"The flu vaccine is free for those most at risk, so if that’s you, make an appointment to receive the vaccine as soon as possible."
Groups eligible for a free NHS flu jab, in the 2021 to 2022 season include:
- all children aged 2 to 15 (but not 16 years or older) on 31 August 2021 - who will be offered a nasal spray
- those aged 6 months to under 50 years in clinical risk groups
- pregnant women
- those aged 50 years and over
- those in long-stay residential care homes
- close contacts of immunocompromised individuals
- frontline health and social care staff employed by:
- a registered residential care or nursing home
- registered domiciliary care provider
- a voluntary managed hospice provider
- Direct Payment (personal budgets) and/or Personal Health Budgets, such as Personal Assistants.
Dr Boardman added: "Obviously with the huge Covid-19 vaccination programme this year across all of Cumbria it has really put vaccinations into the spotlight and inspired many discussions, but we have been really encouraged by the excellent take up rate in the county.
"People should remember that the flu jab is dealing with a different virus so getting this jab will help to boost their immune system further."
For more information on flu, visit the NHS website at: www.nhs.uk/conditions/flu/
If you need medical advice you can visit NHS 111 at: https://111.nhs.uk for information and advice.