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Flu jab best way to protect against virus

 

24 October 2011

Vulnerable people, including the over 65s, pregnant women and those with heart disease, breathing problems, diabetes and other long-term illnesses are being urged by the NHS in Derby and Derbyshire to get their winter flu jab.

The winter flu jab is by far the best way to protect against the potentially devastating effects of the virus – which can cause serious complications, including pneumonia. In some cases it can be fatal.

Last year 600 people died from flu, and a high proportion may have been avoided if people in at risk groups had been vaccinated.

Dr Bruce Laurence, acting director of public health for NHS Derbyshire, said: “We’d urge anyone who is most at risk of catching flu to take heed of our advice and get the flu jab to protect themselves against this potentially deadly virus. It could mean the difference between life and death.

“Another bad winter is being forecast, and there may be lots of flu around again this year as there was last year, which means we all need to be prepared and forearm ourselves against the effects of the virus as soon as the vaccine becomes available in October.”

The flu vaccine is rigorously tested by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency. It is updated each year to ensure it protects against the three most commonest strains of the virus using the same manufacturing process that has been tried and tested since the 1980s.

Health bosses also moved to reassure patients that GP practices would be well stocked with flu vaccine supplies – and extra quantities had been ordered to avoid surgeries running low on supplies.

Serious reactions to the vaccine are extremely rare – although quite a few people will get a sore arm or feel a bit off colour for a day or two. It is scientifically impossible to get flu itself from the vaccine. 

More frontline health workers were also being encouraged to get their jab.

“Frontline health workers have a duty of care to get their jab and they shouldn’t hesitate to get themselves protected as they play a vital role in reducing the spread of the virus to vulnerable patients,” Dr Laurence added.

GP surgeries in Derbyshire and Derby City will begin offering their seasonal flu vaccine from Monday 3 October. Patients wanting to book an appointment to have their jab should contact their GP. Help and information on the flu and its symptoms is freely available from NHS Direct on 0845 4647.

The vaccine is offered free of charge to:

  • the over 65s, all pregnant women, asthma sufferers, diabetics, children aged six months and over in an at risk group, people diagnosed with heart disease and long-term illness, frontline health workers, carers and people living in long stay residential care homes.


ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS:

NHS Derby City and NHS Derbyshire County Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) are working together as a cluster to lead the local transition to GP consortia commissioning. The PCTs are responsible for the healthcare of people in Derbyshire.