As winter temperatures set in, public health officials in Nottinghamshire are reminding people of all ages that it’s not too late to get the annual flu vaccination, writes Coun Stewart Wallace, chairman of the adult social care and public health committee at Nottinghamshire County Council.
A flu vaccination is needed every year as the flu virus is very clever and constantly changes.
It’s an easy way to avoid the potentially serious complications which occur for some people who catch flu.
Among the priority groups that need to seriously consider a flu jab are those aged 65 and over, residents in long-stay residential care homes, people with long-term medical conditions, pregnant women and two and three-year-olds.
Toddlers are often referred to as ‘super spreaders’ for tending not to wipe their noses or cover their mouths when sneezing.
At this time of the year when grandparents are visiting their young grandchildren it’s a very sensible idea that both of them are vaccinated.
The seasonal flu jab is offered as a free nasal spray to two and three-year-olds and it’s a quick, easy and painless way.
The nasal spray vaccine last year reduced children’s risk of flu by 65 per cent according to Public Health England.
The flu jab has been offered to all frontline care staff who are directly employed and those services commissioned by the council.
There is clear evidence that a high level of uptake amongst frontline workers helps to protect vulnerable service users in care homes and nursing homes as well as children and adults with long-term health conditions.
Vaccination is the best protection we all have against flu so I would encourage everyone who is included in the at-risk categories to book a flu jab at their general practice or with another healthcare professional.
I cannot stress enough how important it is for those who are eligible for the flu vaccine to have it.
It is vital that the uptake of the vaccine is maintained across all sectors and that schools, nurseries and parents understand the importance of why the vaccine should be given to children.
You can get the flu jab for free on the NHS from your local GP if you fall into one of the at-risk categories.
High street chemists and most of the leading supermarkets also offer the vaccination to anyone at varying costs.
If there is an increase in uptake from those most at risk, this in turn helps to reduce serious health consequences and hospitalisation amongst these groups as well as GP appointments and pressure on A&E.