Free Flu Jab To Save Lives This Winter

Free Flu Jab To Save Lives This Winter

NHS teams in Manchester are gearing up for flu season by encouraging key risk groups to come forward for their annual vaccination.

The flu jab is available on the NHS for people who are in priority ‘risk’ groups. This includes anyone aged 65 and over, pregnant women (at any stage of their pregnancy) and people with long-term health conditions.

Each year in the UK flu causes 600 deaths. Flu symptoms can start suddenly – and in some cases severely – including fever, chills, headaches, aching muscles as well as a cough or sore throat. Some people are more likely to develop potentially serious complications of flu, such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

Dr Ivan Benett from Central Manchester CCG said: “A bad bout of flu is very different from having a heavy cold. It can make some people in the risk groups seriously ill, so it’s vital that they come forward for a quick and painless jab, which could prevent this from happening.”

Flu – which is caused by a virus – cannot be treated by antibiotics, which only work on bacteria.

The viruses that cause flu change each year, which is why people need a yearly vaccination that matches the new viruses. The jab also gives protection against the H1N1 swine flu, as well as the two strains of flu that are predicted to be circulating this winter.

A flu vaccine is available free on the NHS for:

  • pregnant women;
  • children aged two and three (this is now part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme);
  • children aged two -18 with a long-term health condition;
  • people aged 65 and over;
  • people with a serious medical condition;
  • healthcare workers or carers;
  • people living in a residential or nursing home.
A full list of people eligible for the flu jab is available on the main NHS website (www.nhs.net) by typing flu in the search bar.

Dr Benett continues: “Most people who come for the vaccination say things afterwards about how surprised they were that it didn’t hurt.

“If there are any side-effects, they are normally very mild. It certainly doesn’t bring on flu – which is still a common misconception – because it does not contain active virus.
“If you think you need the vaccination, then talk to your GP or practice nurse. Having the vaccination will not only protect you, but it will also stop you from passing the virus on to others including friends and family.”
Case Study: Why Bill’s a community flu-fighter
Bill Williams is chair of the Whalley Range Community Forum.
Whalley Range is one of the areas where the NHS is keen to increase the uptake of the flu vaccination.
NHS staff recently held a meeting with local people to talk about the benefits of vaccination and to allay any fears.
Bill was one of the Whalley Range residents who attended and has subsequently agreed to be a ‘flu-fighter’ – to help promote the message within the community.
Bill says: “I choose to have the flu jab because I believe in preventative care to look after my health. I lead a simple life and I’ve not needed to see my GP for 25 years.
“But, I believe in doing things to look after yourself and other people.
“I’ve had the flu jab before and it doesn’t hurt – and the injection is over and done with very quickly.
“I think some older people may be scared that there is a long needle involved – but it’s so small you don’t notice it.”
Ends
For more information please contact NHS Greater Manchester Commissioning Support Unit on 0161 212 4885 or email communications.gmcsu@nhs.net.
 
Notes to editors
Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are NHS organisations led by local GPs and other health care professionals who are responsible for deciding how the local health budget is spent.
There are three CCGs in Manchester: North Manchester CCG, Central Manchester CCG and South Manchester CCG.
All GP practices in the city are members of one of these groups. They are responsible for planning and paying for services within each area. This includes planned hospital care such as operations, rehabilitation services, urgent and emergency care and most community services such as district nursing or physiotherapist, mental health services and learning disability services.

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