As flu season approaches, local Birmingham and Solihull people are being encouraged to have their flu jab before December.
A free NHS flu vaccine is available every year to eligible people, to help protect them from risk of flu and its complications.
Flu can be serious and is very different to the common cold; it can even be life threatening if you’re in an at-risk group.
You are entitled to a free flu vaccine if you:
- Are 65 years of age or over
- Are pregnant, no matter how many weeks
- Have certain medical conditions (e.g. asthma, COPD, bronchitis, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, heart, liver or kidney disease)
- Are living in a long-stay residential care home, or other long-stay care facility
- Receive a carer's allowance, or you are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill.
Anyone in these groups is urged to visit their GP, local pharmacy or talk to their midwife about having their free flu vaccination.
As ‘super-spreaders’, children should be also vaccinated to protect them, and other vulnerable members of the community, from flu. For children aged 2 and 3, the flu vaccine is just a quick nasal spray, which can be given at their GP practice.
Across Birmingham and Solihull, all children in reception class and school years one to five, will be offered the flu nasal spray whilst they’re at school. It’s important that parents remember to sign and return the consent form, when it arrives home in their child’s school bag.
If you're a frontline health and social care worker, you are also eligible for an NHS flu vaccine to protect yourself, your colleagues and the people you care for.
Dr Richard Mendelsohn, Chief Medical Officer of NHS Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “It is important that we take responsibility to protect ourselves, and others, against the flu virus. For maximum protection, the best time to get your jab is between the beginning of October and the end of November, although the vaccine will still be available after this.”
Chris Baggott, Public Health Service Lead for Birmingham City Council added: “This year, there is a new vaccine available for people over 65, which is more effective in protecting them against the flu virus. Locally, we want to ensure that people who need a flu jab have it by the end of November, so GPs will be inviting eligible patients in over the next two months, when they have supplies of the right vaccine available. Local pharmacies will also be able to provide the new vaccine when they have supplies. People over 65 should wait until the right vaccine is available, so that they get the best protection against flu. Speak to you GP or local pharmacy for more information.”
Solihull Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health, Councillor Karen Grinsell, said: “A bad bout of flu is much worse than a heavy cold. It cannot be treated by antibiotics and if you get complications, you could become seriously ill and end up in hospital. This is why we’re urging people who are eligible for a free flu jab to book an appointment with their GP as soon as possible and stay well this winter.”
More information and advice about flu is available on the NHS website.