Wakefield residents urged to get the flu vaccine this winter

Wakefield Council is reminding residents that it is more important than ever to get the free flu vaccine this winter to help protect those at risk and minimise further impact on the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic.

By Leanne Clarke
Tuesday, 22nd September 2020, 12:30 pm

For most healthy people, flu is a very unpleasant disease and it generally takes at least a week to recover. But for some, the disease can increase the risk of developing more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia, or can make existing conditions worse.

In the worst cases, flu can result in a stay in hospital, or even death, with an average of 11,000 people dying every year from flu and thousands more hospitalised. Those most at risk from flu are also most vulnerable to COVID-19.

The following people are at particular risk if they catch flu and are eligible for the free vaccine:

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Wakefield residents urged to get the flu vaccine this winter

Frontline health and social care workers

Anyone 65 years old and over

Member of a shielding household

Pregnant women

Children aged two to 11-years-old

Those with a long-term health condition (LTHC) such as:

A heart problem

A chest complaint or breathing difficulties, including bronchitis, emphysema or severe asthma

A kidney disease

Lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (such as steroid medication or cancer treatment)

Liver disease

Had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)

Diabetes

A neurological condition, e.g. multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy

A learning disability

A problem with your spleen, e.g. sickle cell disease, or you have had your spleen removed

Are seriously overweight (BMI of 40 and above)

The similarity of symptoms for flu and COVID-19 could cause potential disruption for many over the winter, with symptoms of seasonal flu being mistaken for coronavirus.

Having your free flu jab will help protect your friends and family from the flu virus and it will help you to know when to get a test if you then get COVID-19 symptoms. This will help reduce the pressure on the NHS and ensure enough tests are available for those who really need them.

Anna Hartley, Wakefield’s Director of Public Health, said: “It’s a common misconception that it is only older people who suffer the most when they get flu. Many children and adults under the age of 65 are putting themselves at just as much risk to the effects of the virus. Seasonal flu is just as highly contagious as COVID-19 but is easily preventable with a quick flu vaccine.

“Those who are at an increased risk, or those who care for someone vulnerable, are encouraged to make an appointment with their GP practice or local community pharmacy as soon as possible. This year, we are delivering our largest ever flu vaccination programme across the Wakefield district. Getting the flu vaccine now can help to take the pressure off NHS services this winter during the coronavirus pandemic.”

Coun Faith Heptinstall, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults, Health and Wellbeing, said: “Getting vaccinated is really quick and easy and as the flu virus changes each year, you need a flu jab each winter to be protected.

“Like COVID-19, the virus can be passed from people who don’t even have the symptoms. It is important for us to remain vigilant and take all the necessary precautions to protect those who are more vulnerable.

“We understand that some people may be worried about how safe it is to get a flu jab this year because of coronavirus but I would like to reassure our residents that the NHS will be taking every precaution to make it safe for you to have your flu jab.”

To help stop the spread of flu, people are advised to cover their mouth when coughing or sneezing and to wash their hands regularly. Maintaining social distancing and wearing a face covering if you can, will also help reduce the spread of the virus.

For further advice and information about the flu vaccination, people are advised to speak to their GP, practice nurse or pharmacist, or read Public Health England’s flu vaccination leaflet. Those aged 50-64 will be offered their free flu jab after November if vaccine supplies allow it.

People can access coronavirus testing via the national NHS test and trace service by visiting nhs.uk/coronavirus or calling 119. This service should only be used by people who have symptoms.