31 October 2017
Doctor and older patient

As the winter approaches, doctors in Northamptonshire are urging people at risk of flu and pneumonia to get vaccinated this winter.

NHS Nene Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Northamptonshire County Council are encouraging people who are eligible to take up the free flu vaccine this winter.

People with serious health conditions, adults aged 65 or over, pregnant women, some carers and healthy children aged between two and four, plus children in primary school years one and two, all qualify for the free vaccination from the NHS.

What is flu?

Flu is a highly contagious infection with symptoms that come on very quickly. In most cases, the symptoms are mild, but in others they can be very serious. Those at greater risk from flu include people aged 65 or over, pregnant women and those with health conditions such as severe asthma, chest or heart complaints and diabetes. Flu can make the effects of existing conditions much worse and make complications like pneumonia more likely.

People who are carers are also encouraged to get a free jab to protect themselves and those around them. They can then continue to help those they look after.

How does the vaccine work?

Flu vaccines can protect against three or four different strains (types) of flu virus. For most flu vaccines, the strains of the viruses are grown in sterile conditions, killed (deactivated) and purified before being made into the vaccine. Because the injected flu vaccine is a killed vaccine, it cannot cause flu.

This year the flu vaccination will continue to be offered to children aged two, three or four years. This is to protect them against the disease and help reduce its spread to other children, including their older brothers and sisters, and, of course, their parents and grandparents. For most children the vaccine will be given as a spray in each nostril. This is very quick, effective and a painless procedure and parents will be invited into their surgery for these vaccinations by their GP practice.

Dr Darin Seiger, chair of NHS Nene Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said:

“Preparing for potential winter illnesses is important for everyone, but especially those at higher risk of getting flu. The vaccine is updated every year to combat the latest strains of the flu virus so if you are in an at-risk group and had the jab last year, you will need another one this year.

“People with respiratory diseases such as COPD, emphysema or asthma are seven times more likely to die if they catch flu compared to those that don’t, and people with cardiovascular problems such as chronic heart disease or angina, or those who have had a stroke, are 11 times more likely.

“Some people are worried that they will be ill after a flu jab but there is no evidence of this, and I have mine every year, as once you’ve had flu, you never want to feel that ill again!”

Cllr Sylvia Hughes, county council cabinet member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said:


“It’s important that you think about getting a flu vaccination. If you’re 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. If you're a parent of a two, three, or four-year-old don't forget they can get also get vaccinated with a simple nasal spray.”

How do I get vaccinated?

The best time to be vaccinated is at the start of the flu season from October to early November, so it’s good to get in early and get flu safe in time for the winter. Most GP practices will be running additional clinics to accommodate patients needing the vaccination.

Simply contact your GP practice to arrange a convenient appointment and get your jab or drop in to your local pharmacy. 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 the NHS website.