The flu vaccination is the best protection for you and those around you which is why it is offered for free for those most at risk.
Flu vaccination clinics across Hampshire started in September and will continue over the winter months. Appointments are available throughout the season and there is still plenty of time to get your vaccination. As the first vaccine deliveries start to reach local teams, Southern Health leaders have urged colleagues to get their annual flu jab as soon as possible.
With COVID-19 in circulation, it is more important than ever to stop the spread of flu and reduce pressure on the NHS. On average more than 8,000 people die each year from flu. Some years the figures can be even higher and many more hospitalised.
Jacky Hunt, Lead Infection Prevention and Control Nurse for Southern Health, said: “Being protected against flu is important every year but is particularly important this year as it is possible to get flu and COVID-19 at the same time. Public Health England (PHE) has said those infected with both flu and COVID-19 have a serious increased risk of death. Just as we are making every effort to stop the spread of coronavirus in our hospitals and communities, we must also do the same for flu.”
Some infections only result in mild symptoms – meaning anyone can unknowingly pass the virus to vulnerable people they meet so this is why it is important to get the flu jab. Flu vaccinators this year will be taking even more precautions to keep both themselves and you safe, including wearing protective equipment and providing scheduled appointment times to reduce contact.
“The most likely viruses that will cause flu are identified in advance of the flu season and vaccines are then made to match them as closely as possible. The flu vaccine therefore provides the best protection available. For the majority of people who catch it flu is unpleasant, but for some it can lead to chest infections, severe complications and even death. Flu is unpredictable, but during the last 10 years, the vaccine has generally been a good match for the circulating strains.” Jacky continues.
As the fifth largest employer in the world with around 1.7 million members of staff, the NHS takes vaccinating its own members of staff as seriously as it does its patients. Staff who get flu require time off work, putting pressure on services at a time when they are already stretched with the COVID19 pandemic and winter pressures. This is why there is such a drive for staff to get vaccinated, alongside patients, with Jacky adding “Frontline staff are at higher risk of catching flu due to their contact with patients and those they care for. Last year we vaccinated over 70% of staff and this year we are hoping to exceed 80%.”
Being healthy does not reduce your risk of getting flu or passing it on and you must have the vaccination every year to protect against new strains of the virus. Check out the NHS website for more information: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/flu/