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We know that vaccination works – health professionals urge flu vaccination uptake

Health professionals across north east Essex and Suffolk are highlighting how important it is for people in at-risk groups to have a flu vaccination.

Some GP practices are now offering flu vaccinations, and over the coming months all practices will be contacting those eligible by letter, telephone or text to offer either walk-in opportunities or fixed appointments. School age children will be offered flu protection by their school’s immunisation team. 

A COVID-19 vaccination will not protect against flu so please take-up the offer of flu vaccination when offered, to help protect you and your loved ones.

People are reminded that they do not need to contact their GP practice about flu vaccination appointments. Those with computer access are also encouraged to check their practice’s website for the latest information.

Many community pharmacies are also offering flu vaccinations for those who are eligible and aged 18+, and people can arrange a vaccination by either contacting their local pharmacy directly or visiting the national pharmacy flu finder website at https://www.nhs.uk/Service-Search/pharmacy/pharmacy-nhs-flu-vaccine-service

Having a flu vaccination will help protect against the virus which kills around 11,000 people each year in England and hospitalises tens of thousands of others. Flu can lead to the worsening of long-term health conditions such as congestive heart failure, asthma and diabetes, and risks the wellbeing of pregnant women and causing brain damage to their unborn children. Serious side effects of flu in young children can result in pneumonia and death.

The flu vaccine is offered to those who:

• Are 50 and over (including those who will be 50 by March 31 2022)
• Have certain health conditions
• Are pregnant
• Are in long-stay residential care
• Receive a carer’s allowance or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
• Live with someone who is more likely to get infections (e.g. someone who has HIV or has had a transplant)
• Children aged 2 or 3 on 31 August 2021
• All primary school children
• All year 7 to 11 children in secondary school
• Children aged 2 to 17 with long term health conditions

Visit www.nhs.uk for a full list and more details of who is eligible

Dr Hasan Chowhan, a GP in Colchester and chairman of NHS North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We’re working hard during these very challenging times and doing our very best to deliver the flu vaccination programme.

“I can’t emphasise enough just how important it is for eligible people to protect their health with a flu vaccination. If there’s one positive to come from the pandemic, it’s that we know for sure vaccination works and is an effective tool in protecting our own health and the health of others.”

Dr Mark Shenton, a GP in Suffolk and chairman of NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The last 18 months of coronavirus has given us all reason to consider the value of life, and how we must do all we can to protect and cherish our own life and the lives of our loved ones. Taking up the offer of a flu vaccination is one of the best ways to protect our health this winter.”

Dr Christopher Browning, a GP in Long Melford and chairman of NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “I urge people to respond to the vaccination invite they receive, but to be patient and remember that the clinics mostly take place during September, October and November, so over time. Please don’t contact your practice asking when it’ll be your turn as practice staff are incredibly busy right now. But don’t worry, you will be contacted.”

Tania Farrow, Chief Officer for the Suffolk Local Pharmaceutical Committee, said: "Community pharmacies and GP surgeries are collectively working to get as many people vaccinated against flu as possible this year. 

"The potential for getting COVID and flu at the same time is real and now restrictions have eased it is really important to get vaccinated so we can all continue to do the things we love."

Cllr Andrew Reid, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for Public Health, Public Protection and Communities, said: “For some flu can be a mild disease, however for others it can be severe or even deadly. The flu vaccine is our best protection against it. Once you are contacted by your GP it is important that you take up your appointment – the flu vaccine is free for those most at risk. It’s important not only for your health, but also for those you love as it reduces the chance of spreading the flu virus.

“The vaccine won't stop all flu viruses, but if you do get flu after vaccination it is likely to be milder and shorter-lived than it otherwise might have been.”

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