With the coronavirus still circulating, it’s more important than even to have a flu jab this year, according to health chiefs in Brighton and Hove.
Vaccination is already under way, the Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said, with more people entitled to a free jab.
The CCG said that thousands of people would be protected from the flu virus this winter, saying: “The NHS is encouraging anyone who is eligible for a free flu vaccination to book an appointment with their GP or pharmacist as soon as they receive an invitation.
“Every year the flu virus kills people and hospitalises many more. This year it is even more important that people who are most at risk of flu have their free flu vaccination.
“All clinics will run in line with infection prevention control – and social distancing measures will be in place.
“For the first time, children in school year 7 and household contacts and carers of those on the NHS Shielded Patient List are all eligible for the free vaccination.
“These groups are in addition to people aged over 65, those under 65 with long-term health conditions, pregnant women, children aged 2 and 3 and children in primary school.”
Allison Cannon, the chief nurse officer for Sussex NHS commissioners, said: “This year with both the flu virus and covid-19 circulating, flu immunisation is more important than ever to reduce infections, protect each other and protect the NHS.
“There is an expanded list of priority groups this year and we are offering the vaccine to children aged from 2 to 11, as well as those over the age of 65 and anyone with chronic illness including diabetes and weight problems.
“So, if you have a body mass index (BMI) of more than 40 or a chronic illness or learning disability, look after yourself and protect the NHS by having the flu jab.”
The CCG said: “People aged between 50 and 64 who are not in a clinical at-risk group may also be offered a free flu vaccination later in the year, providing there is enough vaccine available.
“This is to ensure that those who are most at risk are vaccinated first.
“Anyone of any age, including those between 50 and 64, who is a household member or a carer of a shielded patient, is eligible for the flu vaccination from September onwards and should contact the GP practice they are registered with or their pharmacy to book an appointment.
“Flu is a highly infectious disease that is spread from person to person and infects the respiratory system, where it can lead to pneumonia and other complications.
“The flu viruses are constantly changing and this is one of the main reasons why people should be vaccinated annually.
“The symptoms, that come on very quickly, include fever, chills, headaches, aches and pains in the joints and muscles and extreme tiredness.
“The best way to avoid getting the flu is by having the vaccination. Doing so reduces the risk of developing the illness significantly.
“For a full list of priority groups and other information about this year’s flu vaccine, visit www.nhs.uk and search for flu vaccine.”