Flu vaccination more important than ever this winter

This year the flu vaccination is more vital than ever to help protect individuals, their loved ones and the wider community.

People who are ‘at risk’ of flu are already at higher risk from contracting coronavirus. Research shows that if someone has flu and COVID-19 at the same time, they are more likely to become seriously ill. The flu vaccination is one of the most effective interventions to reduce harm from flu and pressures on health and social care services during the winter.

Every year in England, the flu alone kills around 11,000 people and hospitalises thousands more. This year the flu vaccination programme has been extended to include more eligible groups of people to help them stay well this winter.

In previous years the free NHS flu programme has been offered to people:

  • Aged 65 and over
  • Pregnant women
  • People with certain conditions such as kidney disease, asthma or heart disease
  • Carers and those in care homes
  • Frontline health and social care workers
  • Children over six months with a long-term health condition
  • Two and three year olds and primary school children

This year the programme is being extended to include:

  • All school year groups up to year 7
  • People who were asked by the Government to shield themselves amid the COVID-19 pandemic (members of their household will also be eligible for a free jab).

From the 1 December adults aged 50 to 64 will also be eligible for the free flu vaccination.

People can get the flu jab at their GP surgery, a pharmacy offering the service or from a midwifery service if they are pregnant. Anyone can get the flu jab, but only people in a group listed above are entitled to a free jab through the NHS.

Director of Nursing & Quality at NHS Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group, Claire Smith said: “It’s been a very challenging year so far and we want to do everything we can to help people stay well this winter. With COVID-19 still prevalent in the UK, getting the flu vaccine is more important than ever to avoid becoming seriously ill.

“My advice to people who are eligible for the free NHS flu vaccination is to get this done as soon as you can so you are protected for the entire winter period. It is worth noting that if you have already had COVID-19 it is safe for you to have the flu jab to stop you getting the flu, again, the sooner the better.

“GP practices across Oldham have measures in place to minimise the risk of coronavirus. When you contact your practice about your flu jab, you will be advised on what to do when you arrive.”

Flu is spread by germs from coughs and sneezes, which can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours. Flu symptoms come on very quickly and there can be a number of symptoms such as fever, aching, body, tiredness, dry cough, headache, sore throat.

Some flu symptoms are similar to COVID-19 symptoms. COVID-19 symptoms are high temperature, a new continuous cough or loss or change to in smell and taste - if a person has any one of the COVID-19 symptoms they need to book a coronavirus test as soon as possible and self-isolate, only leaving your house to get tested.