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Health Matters - Get your free flu jab

Health Matters - Get your free flu jab
13 September 2018

Dr Paul Bowen, clinical chair of NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group, and GP with McIlvride Medical Practice, Poynton

If you have ever had flu, you’ll know how bad it is. It’s more than a bad cold or a chesty cough. Flu can confine healthy people to bed for days, cause misery for millions and can even kill those most at risk of falling seriously ill if they catch it.

Last year’s outbreak was the worst in seven years with poor weather and an increase in respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses causing suffering for many. This is why I’m urging everyone to get their flu jab this year.

It is important to get the flu jab every year, as a new vaccine is developed annually by Public Health England to improve protection and help boost your immune system against the strains which are most likely to emerge over the coming winter.

Eastern Cheshire was ranked third best in England last year out of the 212 CCGs for vaccination uptake in the over 65s group and in the top 20 for uptake in pregnant women, we want to build upon these successes and increase our vaccination rates even further.

While the jab won’t stop you getting a bad cold or an unpredicted strain of the disease, it is highly effective, rarely causes any side effects and offers the best, scientifically-proven protection we have against flu.

The flu jab is offered free of charge to those who are most at risk, including:

  • Anyone aged 65 and over.
  • People with underlying health conditions.
  • Children and adults with weakened immune systems.
  • Pregnant women.
  • NHS and social workers.

For more information on who can get the free flu vaccine click here and search ‘flu vaccine’.

We can’t force people to have the jab. But with thousands of deaths each year attributed to flu, it is the strongest recommendation of local doctors and nurses, including myself, along with the NHS as a whole, that you take up the free jab if you’re entitled to it.

Get in contact with your GP surgery, pharmacy or midwifery service to check whether you are eligible, and if they are holding flu clinics, which are often at weekends and afternoons to help accommodate people’s busy lives.

If you don’t qualify for a free flu jab, you can pay a small fee to get the jab at various local pharmacies for around £10.