Urgent plea for vulnerable groups to have flu vaccine

Somerset County Council is urging people with underlying health conditions to take up the free offer of a flu vaccination if they haven’t already.

Flu can affect anyone, but for those living with a long-term health condition the effects of catching the flu can make it worse, even if the condition is well managed and they normally feel well.

People with chronic liver disease, a problem with their spleen or are seriously overweight (BMI of 40 and above) are at risk, and uptake in these groups is low this year.

This winter we have the added complication of Coronavirus still being in circulation throughout our community. These groups have also been identified as being at risk from Coronavirus and catching the two viruses together is even more likely to lead to severe illness, hospitalisation and sadly death.

Therefore, it is more important than ever for people in these at-risk groups to reduce the chance of becoming ill with flu this winter, reduce the chance of spreading it to others – and help protect the NHS.

A list of all people that are eligible for the free flu vaccination can be found at: https://www.healthysomerset.co.uk/flu/

To make an appointment to receive the free flu jab you can contact your local pharmacy. Strict social distancing and hygiene practices are in place to protect both the public and staff at vaccination clinics and Government restrictions do allow you to leave your home to attend as it is a medical appointment.

Councillor Clare Paul, Somerset County Council’s member responsible for health and wellbeing, commented: “Providing the flu vaccine to people with existing health conditions helps prevent them from becoming seriously ill from flu and helps protect the NHS at a time when they are already stretched.

“I urge everyone who is eligible for the free flu jab to take this opportunity to protect themselves and other vulnerable people.”

Kate Staveley, GP Lead for Women and Children said: “It is important that anyone with an underlying health condition takes the opportunity to get their flu jab. The flu can be a serious disease, especially for vulnerable people or those with underlying health conditions. Having the vaccine not only protects you, but it also helps to reduce the transmission to others.

“This winter, more than ever it is important that we do all we can to protect ourselves, prevent serious illness and reduce the pressure on the NHS. Our community pharmacists are still delivering flu vaccinations to people across Somerset and we encourage everyone who is entitled to a flu jab, to get vaccinated and protect themselves and their loved ones.”