Worryingly only 37 per cent of people in Solihull and Birmingham, under the age of 65 deemed most at risk of flu, have taken up their free NHS flu vaccination.
This leaves over 100,000 local people including those with long-term illnesses such as diabetes, asthma and heart, liver or kidney disease at risk of flu and its complications.
Just over half of over 65s have taken up the annual flu jab leaving nearly 77,000 elderly people vulnerable to flu. As more vaccinations for the over 65s are now available at GPs and pharmacies, people in this age group are being urged to get their free vaccination as soon as possible.
Senior health professionals are also concerned that just one third of pregnant women in the area have taken up the free flu jab leaving almost 9,000 mothers and unborn children at risk from flu. Along with over 24,000 children aged 2 and 3 who are yet to receive the nasal spray at their GP.
People in receipt of a carer’s allowance, main carers for an elderly or disabled person, frontline health and social care workers and people living in a long-stay care facility are also being encouraged to come forward for their free flu jab.
Solihull Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health, Councillor Karen Grinsell, said: “If you are eligible for a free flu jab and have not yet come forward, it’s not too late to get protected. Flu can be serious and is very different to the common cold; it can even be life threatening for those in an at-risk group.
“You are putting yourself at risk if you do not take up the annual vaccination so please visit your GP, pharmacist or midwife as soon as possible. It’s free because you need it.”
Chris Baggott, Public Health Service Lead for Birmingham City Council also said: “It’s really important that if you are in one of the flu jab target groups you protect yourself and those around you by booking an appointment with your GP or local pharmacist. People working as carers or acting as a main carer for elderly or disabled people should also get the jab."
Dr Richard Mendelsohn, Chief Medical Officer of NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG and a Birmingham GP, said: “Prevention is always preferable when it comes to flu. The reason we talk so much about getting a flu jab if you are in one of the at-risk groups is that we don’t want to see anyone become seriously ill, especially when it is avoidable.
“I would encourage everyone in an at risk group to get a flu jab and protect themselves this winter.”
For more information about the free flu vaccination visit: www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine/