Health experts plea to get a jab as flu comes early with hospital cases rising in Northamptonshire

“Particularly bad winter” predicted as lockdowns leave people with less immunity
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Health experts in Northamptonshire are ramping up pleas for people to get flu jabs ahead of a predicted winter ‘twindemic’.

Vaccines are free to those at most risk of suffering severe symptoms.

Government data shows flu cases climbing quickly in the past week at the same time as hospitals are admitting more people with Covid-19, leading to increased pressure on emergency departments.

Indications are that the ‘flu season’ has started earlier than normal with rates of hospitalisations and intensive care admissions rising fastest in children under five.

Dr Annapurna Sen, health protection consultant in Northamptonshire, said: “Flu is a highly contagious viral infection that anyone can catch and it can be very serious for some.

People are now returning to pre-Covid normal with less immunity to influenza due to lack of coming into contact with recent flu infections.

■ Click HERE to book a free flu jab online via the NHS website or contact your GP, local pharmacy or your midwife

Free NHS flu jabs can be booked onlineFree NHS flu jabs can be booked online
Free NHS flu jabs can be booked online

“This year is predicted to be a particularly bad year for flu, judging by the flu season in Australia.

"The Southern Hemisphere is used every year as a predictor as to what the likely pattern and flu variants will be. It’s been reported that Australia experienced the most severe flu season in five-years.

"The typical Australian flu season occurs from June to October, however this year it started in April and was coupled with an increase in Covid-19 cases.

“With this knowledge its more important than ever to have the flu vaccine.

“It will protect your immune system and give you one less thing to worry about this winter.”

People who are not eligible for the free NHS vaccination are still strongly recommended to have a flu jab, available for a small charge at many community pharmacies, as the virus can be serious for anyone who catches it. Vaccinations are available for a small charge at many community pharmacies.

The list of those eligible for a free jab includes:

■ Children aged two and three

■ Children from reception class to year nine

■ People aged 50 to 64 years not in a clinical group

■ People aged 65 and over

■ Those aged six months to under 65 years in clinical at risk group

■ Pregnant women

■ Household contacts of immunocompromised

■ Carers

■ Front-line health and social care workers and care workers

Covid autumn booster jabs are also currently available to all over-50s.

An advertising campaign launched this week aims to build on the success of last year’s Covid jabs drive, stressing that protection wanes over time so everyone eligible should boost their immunity by getting both vaccines ahead of a difficult winter.

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The adverts use blue for flu and yellow for Covid halos to represent the protection both vaccines provide.

They will run on TV, video on demand, radio, social and digital channels. Highly targeted, eye-catching information on digital channels will help to reiterate the importance of boosting your immunity ahead of a difficult winter by booking jabs early.

Northampton General Hospital and Kettering General Hospital reintroduced restrictions on visiting and mandatory mask wearing earlier this month in response to rising numbers of Covid patients.

Medics also repeated their plea to anyone with ANY symptoms of illness to “stay away” from hospitals.