If you are aged 65 and over (i.e. born on or before 31st March 1953) you are eligible for the flu vaccine this year. This age group need the flu vaccine yearly and it should be part of your preparations for staying well over winter. Ideally, get your flu vaccine before winter (in October- November) to get the maximum protection.

Starting in late September, the vaccine is available throughout winter from multiple convenient locations such as your GP surgery or some community pharmacies (you do not need a referral from your doctor).

The vaccine will be made available for free to eligible persons; don’t let them go to waste as they can cost up to £20 privately.

Dr Annapurna Sen from Public Health Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire Council said: “The flu vaccine is one of the best protection against flu and its complications. As the flu virus changes every year it is important to get an updated flu vaccine every year to give you the best protection.”

Cllr Louise Jackson, Portfolio Holder for Public Health at Bedford Borough Council said: “Flu is different from a cold – it can be much more serious and lead to significant complications such as bronchitis or pneumonia particularly in those aged 65 and over. It is worth also outlining that the flu vaccine cannot give you the flu, so it is better to play things safe and get vaccinated.”

Last year (between April 2016 and March 2017) there were over 1,790 hospital admissions in Bedfordshire due to flu and over two thirds of these were in people over 65 years old. Furthermore, out of these 145 of them died in Bedfordshire where flu was a contributing factor.

Regardless of your age, if you are a carer for or look after someone, you are also eligible for the free vaccine. By getting the flu vaccine you stay well for the ones you love. You may not be worried about catching the flu yourself. However, having the flu vaccine protects you and prevents it from spreading it to other people. It helps protect the people you care for who may be at higher risk of complications from flu.

Although the flu job can’t stop all flu viruses; it is the best protection against flu. Furthermore having the flu vaccine may reduce the risk of having a more severe illness such as meningitis or septic shock other than serious lung infection.

The flu vaccine is safe for most people and serious side-effects are very uncommon. Talk to your GP or community pharmacist if you are concerned.

Make a commitment in your diary to see the GP or community pharmacy about the free flu jab before winter to get a head start this year.  Other people may be eligible for the free flu vaccine too.

Visit the NHS choices website for more information on the flu vaccine and to see if you are eligible:

Notes to Editors:

Although in this press release we are targeting carers and those aged 65 and over,  there will be further press releases throughout the campaign with messaging for other groups. Groups eligible for the free flu vaccine in 2017/18 programme:

  • all children aged two to eight (but not nine years or older) on 31 August 2017 (live attenuated influenza vaccine)
  • all primary school-aged children in former primary school pilot areas  (live attenuated influenza vaccine)
  • those aged six months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups (with certain underlying medical conditions)
  • pregnant women
  • those aged 65 years and over
  • those in long-stay residential care homes
  • carers

Target vaccination rates in those aged 65 and over is 75%. Last year only 70% of eligible adults aged 65 and over had the flu vaccine.

Information on the flu vaccination programme 2017/18 is available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-flu-immunisation-programme-plan

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