22/01/2014 - Permalink

It’s not too late to vaccinate

Related topics: Community / Health / Partner organisations

Shropshire’s health chiefs are urging those who are eligible for a free NHS flu jab that it’s not too late to vaccinate.

The call out follows the recent publication of flu uptake figures for Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin.

Although overall Shropshire figures for over 65 year olds (around 73%) are good, there’s still a low update of the vaccine for those under 65 with underlying health conditions (around 55%) and pregnant women (53% Shropshire, 50% Telford and Wrekin).  Uptake of the recently introduced nasal vaccine for 2 and 3 years was 51% (Shropshire) and 42% (Telford and Wrekin) and 49% (Shropshire) and 46% (Telford and Wrekin) respectively. 

Dr Irfan Ghani, Shropshire Council’s Consultant in Public Health Medicine, said:

“Whilst many older people in Shropshire have now received their flu vaccine, there are still a lot of people aged under 65 with long-term conditions, such as heart or breathing problems, and pregnant women, who have yet to have theirs. 

“Over the next couple of weeks we will be working closely with health colleagues and local communities to urge those who need it, to take up the offer of the flu vaccination.”

Councillor Karen Calder, Cabinet Member for Health at Shropshire Council added;

“As part of this final push, I would like to encourage those most at risk to get their flu jab. The vaccine takes around 10-14 days to start working, so the sooner you have it, the quicker you’ll be protected.”

Councillor Richard Overton, chairman of the Telford and Wrekin Health and Well-being Board, said;

 “I can’t emphasise enough how important it is for all people who are vulnerable to seasonal flu to ensure they take advantage of the free vaccine. People should book an appointment with their GP as soon as possible.”

Symptoms of flu can be very unpleasant and can last for several days.  Flu can lead to more serious complications like pneumonia and bronchitis which need hospital treatment.  Every year, hundreds of thousands of people may see their GP and tens of thousands may be hospitalised because of flu each winter. 

Nationally almost 800 people were admitted to intensive care with complications of flu last year. Those who have long term conditions are among the most at risk from flu; if you’re in an ‘at risk’ group you are, on average, 11 times more likely to die than someone who is not in an ‘at risk’ group.

Some people are put off having the flu vaccine because of things they have heard, such as ‘the vaccine gives you flu’ or ‘you only need it if you’re old’ – this is not true. We’ve listed 10 of the most common myths around flu for your information below.

Those who may be eligible for the free flu jab, should call their GP surgery now to check and to book an appointment. You can also visit www.nhs.uk/flu.

Further information:

10 myths about flu and the flu vaccine – from NHS Choices

There are many myths surrounding flu and the flu vaccine. Here are 10 common flu myths, and the truth behind them.

The flu jab is available on the NHS for adults and children who are considered “at risk”. This includes anyone aged 65 and over, mums-to-be at any stage of pregnancy and people with a long-term health condition. The children’s flu vaccine is also
recommended for all two- and three-year-olds.

Find out which adults should have the flu vaccine.

Find out which children can have the flu vaccine.

1. Having flu is just like having a heavy cold

A bad bout of flu is much worse than a heavy cold. Flu symptoms come on suddenly and sometimes severely. They include fever, chills, headaches and aching muscles, as well as a cough and sore throat. So, you’re likely to spend two or three days in bed. If you get complications caused by flu, you could become seriously ill and have to go to hospital.

2. Having the flu vaccine gives you flu

No, it doesn’t.
The injected flu vaccine that is given to adults contains inactivated flu viruses, so it can’t give you flu. Your arm may feel a bit sore where you were injected, and some people get a slight temperature and aching muscles for a couple of days afterwards, but other reactions are very rare.

Read more about how the injected flu vaccine works.

The children’s flu nasal spray vaccine contains live but weakend flu viruses that will not give your child flu.

Read more about how the children’s flu vaccine works.

3. Flu can be treated with antibiotics

No, it can’t. Viruses cause flu and antibiotics only work against bacteria. You may be prescribed antiviral medicines to treat your flu. Antivirals do not cure flu but they can make you less infectious to others and can reduce the length of time that you may be ill. To be effective, antivirals have to be given within a day or two of your symptoms appearing.

A bacterial infection may occur as a result of having the flu, in which case you may be given antibiotics.

Find out more about why antibiotics won’t work against flu.

4. Once you’ve had the flu vaccine, you’re protected for life

No, you aren’t. The viruses that cause flu can change every year, so you need a vaccination each year that matches the new viruses. The vaccine usually provides protection for the duration of the flu season that year.

Read more about what’s in this winter’s flu vaccine.

5. I’m pregnant, so I shouldn’t have the flu jab because it will affect my baby

You should have the vaccine whatever stage of pregnancy you are in. If you’re pregnant, you could get very ill if you get flu, which could also be bad for your baby. Having the jab can also protect your baby against flu after they’re born and during the early months of life.

Read more about the flu jab in pregnancy.

6. The flu jab won’t protect me against swine flu

Yes, it will. This year’s flu vaccine protects against three different flu viruses including the H1N1 swine flu virus. This is because the virus is expected to be circulating this year.

7. Children can’t have the flu vaccine

An annual flu vaccine for children is available on the NHS for all two and three year olds.

It’s given as a nasal spray and will be offered from this autumn to all children who were aged two and three on September 1 2013. That is, children with a date of birth on or after September 2 2009 and on or before September 1 2011. Eventually, the vaccination programme will be extended so that all children between the ages of six months and 16 years are able to have the flu vaccine.

Children over the age of six months who are “at risk” of serious illness if they catch flu are eligible for a flu vaccine on the NHS. The flu vaccine is given to children as a nasal spray.Children at risk from flu include those with a pre-existing illness such as a respiratory or neurological condition, or children who are having treatment such as chemotherapy.

Read more about which children can have the flu vaccine.

8. I’ve had the flu already this autumn, so I don’t need the vaccination this year

You do need it if you’re in one of the risk groups. As flu is caused by several viruses, you will only be protected by the immunity you developed naturally against one of them. You could go on to catch another strain, so it’s recommended you have the jab even if you’ve recently had flu. Also, what you thought was flu could have been something else.

9. If I missed having the flu jab in October, it’s too late to have it later in the year

No, it’s not too late. It’s better to have the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available, but it’s always worth getting vaccinated before flu comes around. Since we don’t know when flu will strike, the sooner you have the vaccine the better.

10. Vitamin C can prevent flu

No, it can’t. Many people think that taking daily vitamin C supplements will stop them getting flu, but there’s no evidence to prove this.

Read the answers to some common questions about flu and the flu vaccine.
For further information about flu vaccination, including who should have it, visit: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/pages/who-should-have-flu-vaccine.aspx

You can also find out more about protecting your child against flu on the NHS Choices website at: