People in Northamptonshire who are the most vulnerable to flu are being urged to protect themselves and their family this winter by having a vaccination.
Flu is a highly contagious viral infection that anyone can catch and is most common over the winter period.
Getting the flu jab or nasal spray is one of the most effective ways to reduce potential harm from the seasonal flu virus.
The vaccination is offered for free to those at increased risk from the effects of flu, including: children aged two to eight, people aged 65 and over, pregnant women, people with long-term health conditions, carers and front-line health and social care workers
Dr Darin Seiger, chair of NHS Nene Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Preparing for potential winter illnesses is important for everyone, but especially those at higher risk of getting flu.
“The vaccine is updated every year to combat the latest strains of the flu virus so if you are in an at-risk group and had the jab last year, you will need another one this year.
“People with respiratory diseases such as COPD, emphysema or asthma are seven times more likely to die if they catch flu compared to those that don’t, and people with cardiovascular problems such as chronic heart disease or angina, or those who have had a stroke, are 11 times more likely.
“Some people are worried that they will be ill after a flu jab but there is no evidence of this.
“I have a flu jab every year as once you’ve had flu, you never want to feel that ill again.”
Vaccinating children not only helps to prevent them from getting the virus, it also prevents the spread of flu within the local population.
Last year’s flu vaccination programme reduced the risk of flu in children who received the vaccine by 65.3 per cent.
For healthy children aged two to eight, the flu vaccine is given in the form of a nasal spray, administered by a health professional.
To get your vaccine or find out if you are eligible, contact your GP, pharmacist or midwife for more information.
People who are not in the at-risk groups, and therefore not eligible for the free NHS flu vaccination, are still strongly recommended to make their own arrangements to have the flu jab as the virus can be serious for anyone who catches it.
Vaccinations are available for a small charge at many local pharmacies.
Professor Dame Sally Davies, England’s chief medical officer, said: “Flu kills and we could save thousands of lives if everyone eligible got their free jab.
“With more people eligible than ever before and the vaccine available in more locations, people should protect themselves and those around them against this potentially deadly virus.
“Taking a few minutes to get the jab could save your life this winter.”