Flu jab advice

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UPTAKE of the free flu jab in ‘at risk’ groups is higher than this time last year but health bosses at NHS Midlands and East are urging residents not to rest easy and to get vaccinated soon as possible - it takes up to ten days for the flu jab to take effect.

Figures recently released by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) show that overall the number of over 65s, those with long term conditions and pregnant women that have had the free flu jab is up year-on-year.

England is on course to hit its target of 75 per cent as 65 per cent of over 65s have already had the vaccination compared to 59 per cent this time last year.

Those under 65 who have a long term condition should also be vaccinated. This includes people with breathing problems, heart conditions, diabetes or an illness where their immune system is compromised. Uptake so far has been 40 per cent (33 per cent 2010/11).

It is also important that pregnant women have the vaccination. This is because pregnant women are particularly at risk of the effects of the H1N1 strain of flu virus, which is expected to be circulating this year.

Mums-to-be that do catch the H1N1 flu virus are at increased risk of bronchitis and pneumonia. To date 18 per cent of pregnant women have had the jab (three per cent 2010/11).

Those who care for elderly or disabled people are also being urged to have the flu vaccination to stop the risk of spread to people whose health is vulnerable.

It takes up to ten days for the vaccination to take effect so it’s important to have it as soon as possible. The flu vaccination does not contain live viruses so cannot give you flu.

If you believe you should have the free flu vaccination and haven’t yet been invited to by your GP contact your GP surgery as soon as possible.

For more information visit http://winterwatch.dh.gov.uk/category/data/