Thousands of people in Sandwell and West Birmingham are putting their life at risk by ignoring their free flu vaccine.
One in three people are entitled to the free flu vaccine, yet despite the huge risk flu poses to health, particularly to the vulnerable, each year more than half of pregnant women and a quarter of over 65s play a lottery with their health and do not get the free vaccine.
The same is true for people with long term conditions such as heart complaints, diabetes and certain types of asthma, with the majority not taking advantage of the vaccine.
Dr Nick Harding, a GP and Chair of NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Flu is extremely dangerous, particularly to those already vulnerable, and each year people lose their lives to flu.
“Bookings are now being taken in most GP practices for people to get their quick free vaccination - something which could save their lives.
“Pregnant women who get the vaccine will also be protecting their baby for its first few months of life.”
Patients and the public in Sandwell and West Birmingham are also being reminded that flu is not a bad cold. While having similar symptoms, a cold is something that for the majority of people leaves you feeling poorly for up to 14 days, meanwhile flu is a dangerous virus that each year claims many lives.
Find out more on the differences on the NHS Choices website here https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/coldsandflu/Pages/Isitacoldorflu.aspx
Dr Harding added: “A lot of people think they've got flu when actually they have a heavy cold. If the majority of symptoms are above the neck – for instance, a runny nose, cough, watery eyes, sore throat, congestion, and sneezing, then it is highly likely that you have a cold. Flu tends to affect your lungs to a greater extent. Colds usually run their course in a few days, whereas it can take weeks to recover from flu.”
For further information about cold and flu and to find out if you are eligible for a free flu vaccination visit www.nhs.uk/flujab or see your local pharmacist.