The NHS in Sandwell and West Birmingham is calling for more patients who are entitled to the free flu jab to come forward; it’s not too late to get the flu jab.
As the number of people affected by flu continues to rise across England, thousands of vulnerable patients in Sandwell and West Birmingham are putting themselves at risk of flu this winter because they have not taken up the free flu vaccination.
The latest figures for Sandwell and West Birmingham show only 62 per cent of patients over the age of 65 have taken up the flu vaccination, compared to the national target of 75 per cent. This leaves over 27,000 elderly people who have not had their annual flu jab vulnerable and at risk of flu.
The number of pregnant women vaccinated and people aged six months to 64, deemed most at risk, are also below the national targets. 5,000 pregnant women and 43,000 people aged six months to 64 years with long-term illnesses such as diabetes and asthma, or the groups deemed to be most at risk from the virus have not had their annual flu jab.
Local doctors in Sandwell and West Birmingham are reminding people about the of the dangers of the virus.
Dr Nick Harding, Chair for NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Flu is a highly contagious disease which for some people including pregnant women, older people and those with a long-term illness, can lead to serious and sometimes life-threatening consequences.
“As with all vaccines, uptake needs to be high to ensure that those most at risk in the community are protected, as flu is a virus that can quickly spread. These figures show that many people in at risk groups have not taken advantage of the flu vaccine this year, and may have put themselves and others at risk.
“Understandably some people may be anxious about the flu jab. However, the vaccine contains no live virus and although it may cause a mild reaction, it is not possible to catch flu from the jab.
“At best flu is a nasty illness, but it can aggravate an existing health condition or cause serious complications if you are elderly or pregnant. At worst it can lead to death – so we’re urging with anyone entitled to the flu jab who has not yet had it to book their appointment today, it is not too late to have your flu jab.”
The over 65s, under-65s with a long-term illness, pregnant women, unpaid carers and patients being cared for in long-stay residential homes are advised to book a flu jab by contacting their GP, it’s not too late to get protected.
The ‘Catch It Bin It Kill It’ campaign helps inform the public about how best they can protect themselves and others. The campaign encourages people to adopt good respiratory and hand hygiene, such as using a tissue and washing hands thoroughly, as a line of defence against flu.
Help and information on flu, the flu vaccine, symptoms and how to treat flu is available on NHS Choices, by contacting your local pharmacist or by calling NHS 111.