Don’t delay book your free flu vaccine

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The free seasonal flu vaccine is now available for eligible people in Sandwell and West Birmingham.

With winter approaching, the NHS is urging residents to get protected at their local surgery by booking their free flu vaccine. Don’t wait until the bad weather, book your appointment today.

Available every year from autumn, the vaccination protects adults and children most at risk from the virus.

Dr Sam Mukherjee, Local GP from NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG, said: “Getting your flu vaccine is free, quick and easy and is vital if you are more susceptible to flu and the complications that can develop as a result of it. The flu vaccine does not give you flu. The killed virus in the vaccine fools the body’s immune system into thinking it’s got the flu and makes it produce the antibodies we need to fight the real flu. We’re encouraging people in high risk groups to book an appointment at their local GP practice as soon as possible. I believe in it and have had mine!

Those most at risk from the effects of flu are:

-          People over 65-years-old

-          Pregnant women

-          Anyone with a long-term or underlying health condition – particularly those with breathing or heart-related issues

-          People of all ages with weakened immune systems

-          People in long-stay residential care or care homes

-          Carers looking after those who may be at risk if they fall ill

-          Health or social care workers who have direct contact with patients.

Those who fall into, or who have contact with, the above groups are considered more at risk of developing potentially serious complications, such as bronchitis or pneumonia – a lung infection.

The vaccine is given as an annual injection to adults over the age of 18 and as a nasal spray to children from ages four to 17. It is given to healthy children from two to four as a matter of course. Currently, there is also a pilot running in a number of areas to give all primary school children and those in years seven and eight – between the ages of 11 and 13 – the vaccine.  

“No one should worry about the vaccine, as serious side effects are very rare. You may have a slight temperature and aching muscles for a few days after, or a sore arm where the injection was given, but this is very minimal and nothing compared to the effects of flu,” added Dr Mukherjee.

If you have a serious egg allergy or think you have had an allergic reaction in the past, make the practice aware when booking your appointment.

“It’s important to remember that for most of us, although unpleasant, flu clears up on its own within a week by taking plenty of rest, lots of fluids and over-the-counter medication for aches, pains and temperatures.”

Find out more about the flu vaccine by listening to friendly advice from a chief nurse, or use the ‘Flu – know the facts’ information on Pinterest.

To find out more speak to your GP practice or visit NHS Choices