The recent mild weather has meant that flu cases this year have been relatively low to date. However, there are warnings that there could be a surge in cases, similar to last winter, leaving those who should have been vaccinated at greater risk.
Each winter the free flu jab is offered to people in ‘at risk’ groups. These include everyone aged 65 and over, children and adults under 65 with certain medical conditions and all pregnant women.
But, whilst the majority of older people in Herefordshire have now received their flu vaccine, there are still some under 65s with long term conditions, such as heart or breathing problems, and pregnant women who have yet to have theirs.
The vaccine takes around 10 days to start working, so the sooner people have it, the quicker they’ll be protected.
Arif Mahmood, consultant in public health medicine, said: “Flu is much more serious than getting a cold, and the effects of seasonal flu are often underestimated. Some people are more at risk from flu and need the vaccine because they are not able to fight off flu as easily as others. Only around 30 percent of pregnant women and 55 percent of under 65 year olds at risk have had the vaccine to date. Yet for these people, flu can often result in more serious complications which require hospital treatment. It can even be fatal in some cases.
“Flu can be prevented by having the vaccine, which is provided free at GP surgeries across the county for those people most at risk.”
If you think you may be eligible for the free flu jab, call your GP surgery now to check and to book an appointment.
For more information on the flu vaccine, go to http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/winterhealth/pages/fluandthefluvaccine.aspx