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Flu vaccination plan to target 'at risk' groups and young children: INFO
12:00pm Sunday 20th October 2013 in News
Health experts say that as autumn sets in and winter approaches, it’s time for those at greatest risk from flu to protect themselves and their families by getting free flu vaccination.
Those at greater risk include people aged 65 or over, pregnant women, and those with health conditions such as severe asthma, chest or heart complaints and diabetes.
This year, the campaign in Devon and Cornwall is focusing particularly on two groups:
• Those under-65s who are in the 'at risk' groups but tend not to bother getting their jab
• Two- and three-year-olds, who are being offered vaccination for the first time – usually as a nasal spray.
People under the age of 65 are eligible for a free jab if they have heart problems or conditions such as breathing difficulties or diabetes.
Only about half in these groups – including babies from the age of six months - were vaccinated last year in Devon and Cornwall.
To increase take-up, more than 30 pharmacies across the two counties will be involved in a pilot scheme this autumn. The pharmacists will be offering jabs to targeted groups of people aged 18-64, who have health conditions that put them in the 'at risk' groups, when they go in to collect their prescriptions.
Two- and three-year-olds: This year, for the first time, children aged two or three years on 1 September are also being offered the flu vaccination. This is to protect them against the disease and to help reduce its spread to other children, including older brothers or sisters, and to their parents.
The vaccine for most children will be given as a spray in each nostril.
Your surgery will contact you to make an appointment for your child to be vaccinated. If you do not hear by about the middle of October, contact your surgery to make an appointment.
Felicity Owen, Director of Public Health Cornwall, said: “Flu isn't just a cold – it can be a really serious illness for some people and it doesn’t just affect older people. If you’re pregnant, have lowered immunity or a long-term condition such as severe asthma, a chest or heart complaint, or diabetes then you should also get a free flu jab.
“And if you have a child aged two or three, getting them vaccinated will help protect your whole family, as young children are at high risk of picking up the virus at play groups and nurseries, and giving it to the rest of their households.
“The flu vaccine changes every year to fight the latest strains of flu, so even if you had a jab last winter you will need another one this year.
“Most older people are used to getting their jab every year, and of course we'd encourage them to do the same again this time around. But we're particularly concerned that younger people in the 'at risk' groups' are still not getting themselves protected. So please book an appointment at your surgery. And if you haven't had the jab but are offered one by your pharmacist, get it done there.
“Flu can increase the risk of developing more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and can make existing conditions much worse. Flu can knock you off your feet and make it hard to look after the kids or go to work. In the most serious cases, seasonal flu might land you in hospital - it can even be a killer.”
About the vaccination The flu jab does not contain the ‘live’ virus, so it cannot give you the flu. If you are in any of the ’at risk’ groups, the flu jab is completely free and is a safe way of protecting you and your family in a matter of minutes.
The best time to be vaccinated is at the start of the flu season from October to early November, and it’s good to get in early in time for the winter.
Contact your GP to arrange a convenient appointment and get your jab. It’s quick, safe and free for those most at risk from the virus.
For more information, speak to your GP or local pharmacist, or visit www.nhs.uk/flu
Flu vaccinations are currently offered free of charge to the following ‘at risk’ groups:
• people aged 65 years or over.
• all pregnant women (including those who become pregnant during the flu season)
• people with a serious medical condition such as
1. chronic (long-term) respiratory disease, such as severe asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or bronchitis
2. chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
3. chronic kidney disease at stage 3, 4 or 5
4. chronic liver disease
5. chronic neurological disease, such as Parkinson's disease or motor neurone disease
7. a weakened immune system due to disease (such as HIV/AIDS) or treatment (such as cancer treatment)
• people living in long-stay residential care homes or other long-stay care facilities where rapid spread is likely to follow introduction of infection and cause high morbidity and mortality. This does not include, for instance, prisons, young offender institutions, or university halls of residence
• people who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an older or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill
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