Wiltshire Publications

People at risk from flu urged to get free vaccine

People at risk of flu such as the elderly and pregnant women are being urged to get free vaccines from Wiltshire doctors.

Wiltshire Council is working with NHS England to promote the free flu jabs to those people in ‘at risk’ groups. So far this winter, fewer than half of pregnant women have had the jab, and nearly a third of people aged 65 or more are yet to get their free vaccine.

For most healthy people, flu is an unpleasant illness with recovery taking up to a week.  However for older people, the very young, pregnant women and those with a health condition – particularly chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease or those with a weakened immune system – are at particular risk from the more serious effects of flu.

Hand hygiene is one of the best ways to stop the spread of flu. The NHS advises people to always cough or sneeze into a tissue, throw the tissue away  and wash their hands.

Keith Humphries, cabinet member for public health and protection said, “The vaccine is there to help the at-risk groups in our communities, but people can help protect themselves against the flu virus by following the advice, carry tissues and keep good hand hygiene.”

Maggie Rae, director of public health said, “We are encouraging all pregnant women and people over the age of 65 to have this year’s seasonal flu jab, even if they had one last year.”

There are other groups of people which are eligible for a free seasonal flu vaccine from their GP. These include children, young people and adults with certain medical conditions, long stay residents in nursing and residential homes and people who receive carers’ allowance or who care for an elderly or a disabled resident.

Letters have been sent out from GP surgeries inviting these individuals to be vaccinated. If people fall under one of these groups and have not heard from their GP, they should contact them directly.

Many of the symptoms of flu are the same as a cold, but those with the influenza virus may also get a sudden fever, muscle aches and pains, sweating, sneezing, start to feel exhausted and need to lie down, and a dry, chesty cough.

Wiltshire Council is vaccinating some of its frontline staff to make sure all services stay available. Staff including social workers, carers, refuse workers and those helping customers face to face will be offered free vaccinations to help stop the spread of the virus and ensure there are no gaps in the services provided.

The NHS are also encouraging GPs to continue to offer the flu vaccine until the end of February.