In Sandwell and West Birmingham a call is going out early for all over 65s and carers to make sure they get their flu vaccine, as last year the numbers getting their vaccine continued to fall, putting high numbers of the population at risk.
Prof Nick Harding, Chair of NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “As the winter draws ever closer, the flu virus begins to circulate widely in the community so it’s important that vulnerable people, such as older people and carers, are protected as soon as possible and book in with their GP to get their crucial vaccination.
“Flu is an unpredictable virus that can cause mild or unpleasant illness in most people, but it can cause severe illness and even death among vulnerable groups. The flu virus spreads easily via droplets which are sprayed into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Direct contact with contaminated hands or surfaces can also spread infection. Every winter the NHS strongly encourages carers and people aged 65 and over to take up the offer of a free flu vaccination at their GP practice so that they are protected against the changing strains of the virus that circulate each year.”
In Sandwell and West Birmingham area the number of people over 65 receiving their flu jab has been steadily decreasing, from 70.6% in 2013-14, 69.8% in 2014-15 and 67.8% in 2015-16. Similarly the number of pregnant women getting their flu vaccine levelled off in the last year, from 37.8% in 2013-14 to 40.4% in 2015-16.
Both formal and informal carers do a fantastic job of looking after others within the community and it is important that they are protected against flu so that they can continue in their caring role.
Carers and people aged 65 and over are entitled to a free flu vaccination every year and should visit their GP practice or local pharmacy to get it from September, which is considered the start of the ‘flu season’.
Find out more about getting the vaccination at www.nhs.uk/flujab