In response to the latest flu jab uptake figures, doctors across Derbyshire are urging those most at risk from flu to protect themselves and their families as a matter of priority with a free flu jab.
Full protection from the vaccine takes up to two weeks to develop and people should act now to get flu safe and make sure that flu doesn’t ruin their Christmas.
Dr Sheila Newport, Ripley GP and Chair of NHS Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said:
“Flu can knock even the healthiest people off their feet for a couple of weeks but, for some people, it can be really serious - it can even be a killer.”
Those at most risk include pregnant women, people living with a health condition such as severe asthma, chest or heart complaints, and those aged 65 and over.
In recent years, critical care units across the region have been busy with people who should have been vaccinated against flu but instead ended up so seriously ill over Christmas that they had to be ventilated as doctors battled to keep them alive. Most of these patients were young and middle-aged adults with long-term health conditions, as well as pregnant women, who would have been eligible for a free flu jab on the NHS.
Dr Newport added:
“The latest statistics show that, worryingly, only 35 per cent1 of at-risk under 65s in Southern Derbyshire have had the flu jab so far this winter, even though the vaccine has been widely available since the beginning of October.
“I really want to emphasise how serious flu can be. Not only can it stop you caring for your kids and keep you off work, it can lead to more serious illness and a spell in hospital – and no one wants that over Christmas.”
The flu vaccine changes every year to fight the latest strains of flu so, even if you had a jab last winter, you need another one this year. The flu jab is completely safe and doesn’t carry the live flu virus so it can’t give you flu.
Dr Buk Dhadda, Swadlincote GP and NHS Southern Derbyshire CCG governing body member, said:
“Flu is a preventable illness and we really don’t want to see anyone getting so seriously ill that they require hospital treatment this Christmas.
“We’re urging all those who are eligible to book a vaccination appointment in the next couple of weeks to make sure they are protected before flu starts spreading in the community.
1 Figure from NHS England, accurate as at 22 November 2013
“Full protection from the vaccine takes a couple of weeks to develop so people really need to come forward now to make sure they can enjoy a happy, healthy Christmas.”
Contact your GP surgery now to arrange a convenient appointment and get your jab. It’s quick, safe and free for those most at risk from the virus.
The CCG plans and buys healthcare for 525,000 patients.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
NHS Southern Derbyshire CCG represents 57 GP practices and is responsible for the healthcare of 525,000 people. It is one of four clinical commissioning groups in Derbyshire.
1. In the 2011/12 flu season only 74% of people aged 65 or over in England received the seasonal flu vaccine
2. Flu vaccinations are currently offered free of charge to the following ‘at risk’ groups:
people aged 65 years or over (including those becoming age 65 years by 31 March 2013).
all pregnant women (including those women who become pregnant during the flu season).
people with a serious medical condition such as:
i. chronic (long-term) respiratory disease, such as severe asthma, chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or bronchitis
ii. chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
iii. chronic kidney disease at stage 3, 4 or 5
iv. chronic liver disease
v. chronic neurological disease, such as Parkinson's disease or motor neurone disease
vii. a weakened immune system due to disease (such as HIV/AIDS) or treatment (such as cancer treatment)
people living in long stay residential care homes or other long-stay care facilities where rapid spread is likely to follow introduction of infection and cause high morbidity and mortality. This does not include, for instance, prisons, young offender institutions, or university halls of residence
people who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an older or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill
Charles Malkin, Communications Officer
Tel: 01246 514971/07825 274111