Posted by Amanda Crawford at 19/01/2017 19:25:31
Local GPs and public health experts are reminding people it’s not too late to get their flu vaccination.
Almost 320,000 thousand adults and children have already had the vaccine in Kent and Medway. But many people in vulnerable at-risk groups have still not been vaccinated.
The latest figures released by Public Health England show that more than 277,000 people have still not had their flu vaccine this winter, leaving themselves at risk from the potentially fatal risk the virus poses.
Priority at-risk groups eligible for the free vaccine include those aged over 65, those under 65 with a long term health condition, pregnant women and children aged from two up to five-years-old.
Dr Navin Kumta, chair of NHS Ashford Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Flu can be a very serious and even fatal illness for people in at-risk groups. GPs are still seeing many cases of people suffering from flu this winter that are entirely preventable.
“I would urge the many thousands of people in those at-risk groups and eligible for a free vaccination to contact your local pharmacy or GP practice today and get the vaccination as soon as possible.”
In the Kent and Medway area:
• The best vaccination uptake is among those aged over 65 with around 65 per cent of those eligible receiving the jab. But that means more than 120,000 over 65s have not been vaccinated.
• 41 per cent of people aged below 65 but who have a long-term condition, such as heart or liver disease which puts them at particular risk from flu have had the jab. Over 100,000 people have still not protected themselves.
• 39 per cent of pregnant women have received their free vaccination. But over 9,000 women have not been vaccinated, putting themselves and their child at serious risk. The vaccine protects the mother while pregnant from developing serious complications associated with flu, but also provides protection for their newborn baby in their early months when born.
• 31 per cent of children aged between two and up to five-years-old have been vaccinated, an increase of more than 4 per cent on last year. But this means parents of over 46,000 children have still not taken steps to protect their child and those around them from the threat of flu. Young children are both vulnerable to the effects of flu but can also spread the virus to others.
Dr John Rodriguez, Consultant in Public Health, Kent and Medway Screening and Immunisation Lead, said:
“There are many people who would benefit who are still not protecting themselves by being vaccinated. It is not too late to get the vaccine and it remains the best way for those who are at the highest risk to protect themselves from the severe effects of the ‘flu virus.
“Those in these key at-risk groups are eligible for a free vaccination. This includes older people and pregnant women, as well as those people with health conditions, even those that are well managed. Conditions include asthma, diabetes, heart, lung, liver and renal disease, those with weakened immune systems. Young children from two, up to five-years-old, should also be protected.
“Anyone in these groups who hasn’t yet had the vaccine can receive it for free through their GP practice, but also your local high street pharmacist so it is quick and easy to arrange.”
Kent County Council Deputy Director of Public Health, Allison Duggal, said:
“It is important that parents make sure children are protected as they can easily spread the illness among their friends and family. In the worst cases, seasonal flu can result in a stay in hospital, and it can even be fatal. If you are pregnant, over the age of 65 or have a long-term condition such as asthma, diabetes, respiratory problems and kidney and liver disease, then we urge you to get your free jab from your GP or local pharmacist.”
Vaccination against the flu virus is just one strand of the wider NHS Stay Well this Winter campaign advising the public on how to avoid common illness during winter. The simple steps are to:
• Make sure you get the flu jab
• Keep yourself warm - heat your home to at least 18 degrees C (or 65F) if you can
• Get help from your pharmacist quickly, if you start to feel unwell, even if it’s just a cough or a cold, before it gets more serious
• Keep stocked up on your prescription medicines
• Always take your prescribed medicines as directed
• Use Health Help Now – the mobile-optimised website that contains a symptom checker and can help you find the right treatment and local services http://kent.healthhelpnow.nhs.uk/
• Use NHS Choices, call 111 or visit your local pharmacist for advice in a non-emergency
• Check up on those more vulnerable – family, friends and neighbours
NHS Ashford Clinical Commissioning Group buys and plans the healthcare for the people of Ashford.