Local GP and Chair of NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) Partnership, Dr Gordon Sinclair, is reminding eligible Leeds residents to take up the offer of the free flu vaccine as part of the Stay Well This Winter campaign.
The flu vaccination is offered to those who are at increased risk from the effects of flu. These include children aged 2-8, people aged 65 and over, pregnant women and those with long term health conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease and heart disease. Additionally carers and health professionals are eligible to receive the vaccine.
Gordon Sinclair, local GP and Chair of NHS Leeds CCGs Partnership, said: “The flu vaccine is the best protection we have against this particularly nasty and sadly, at times, fatal virus. It is vital that those eligible have it every year as the vaccine protects against different strains of flu which can change and evolve each year.
“It’s not too late to protect yourself from flu this winter. If you’re eligible get the vaccine now, it’s free because you need it.”
The Stay Well This Winter campaign aims to help the most vulnerable people in Leeds prepare for winter and avoid having to visit hospital due to common winter illnesses.
The programme launched as the Chief Medical Officer has warned that flu, and complications associated with it, causes 8000 deaths on average a year in England.1
People with respiratory diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema or asthma are seven times more likely to die if they catch flu. People with cardiovascular problems like chronic heart disease or angina, or have had a stroke, are 11 times more likely compared to those who don’t. The risk is far worse for those with chronic liver disease, who are 48 times more likely to die if they get flu.2
Another way of protecting vulnerable adults is to vaccinate children, who are ‘superspreaders’ of the virus. Health professionals say that without the flu vaccination children are more likely to contract the flu at nursery or school and then spread the virus at a rapid rate, posing a particular risk to the elderly and other people at higher risk. Last year’s flu vaccination programme reduced the risk of flu in children who received the vaccine by 65%.3 For healthy children aged 2-8 in Leeds the flu vaccine is given in the form of a nasal spray, administered by a health professional.
Professor Dame Sally Davies, 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.”
To get your vaccine or find out if you are eligible, contact your GP, pharmacist or midwife for more information. Visit www.nhs.uk/staywell for more details on how to help you and your family to stay well this winter.