Barnsley residents urged to take up free flu vaccine offer

Public Health England and the NHS’s joint Stay Well This Winter campaign launches today (Thursday, 12 October) with the national flu vaccination programme now available nationwide to all eligible people. 

Barnsley Council is supporting the Stay Well This Winter campaign which will help the most vulnerable people in Barnsley prepare for winter and avoid having to visit hospital due to common winter illnesses. 

People who are the most vulnerable to flu are being urged to get their free flu vaccination, ahead of winter when the virus is most common. 

The programme launches as the Chief Medical Officer has warned that flu, and complications associated with it, cause 8,000 deaths on average a year in England. 

This year’s campaign aims to continue to increase uptake of the flu vaccination. 

Last year in Yorkshire and the Humber,  38 per cent of children aged two to four years were vaccinated, with children also offered the vaccine in school years 1, 2 and 3. The vaccine was also administered to 48 per cent of people in at-risk groups and  72 per cent of people aged 65 or older. Uptake by pregnant women nationally was 45 per cent. 

In Barnsley, 42 per cent of children aged two to four years were vaccinated, it was administered to 52 per cent of people in at-risk groups and 71 per cent of  people aged 65 or older. Uptake by pregnant women was 46 per cent.

Free vaccination is offered to those who are at increased risk from the effects of flu. These include children aged to to eight, people aged 65 and over, pregnant women and people with long-term health conditions such as diabetes, respiratory disease, heart and liver diseases.   

Dr Kevin Smith, from PHE in Yorkshire and the Humber said:Flu is never pleasant at the best of times, but for some people it can lead to very serious complications. The best way to protect yourself and those you love is to make sure you or they get vaccinated. 

“If you’re someone who’s most at risk your vaccination is free – so contact your GP or pharmacist,  if you haven’t done so already, and make sure you get this protection.  It will help you stay well this winter.” 

People with respiratory diseases like COPD, emphysema or asthma are seven times more likely to die if they catch flu, and people with cardiovascular problems like chronic heart disease or angina, or have had a stroke, are 11 times more likely compared to those who don’t. The risk is far worse for those with chronic liver disease, who are 48 times more likely to die if they get flu. 

Another way of protecting vulnerable adults is to vaccinate children, who are ‘super-spreaders’ of the virus. Last year’s flu vaccination programme reduced the risk of flu in children who received the vaccine by 65 per cent. For healthy children aged two to eight the flu vaccine is given in the form of a nasal spray, administered by a health professional. 

Paul Twomey, Medical Director for NHS England in Yorkshire and the Humber said: “Flu is a really unpleasant illness, particularly for those who are vulnerable such as the elderly, those with long-term conditions or young children. 

“Flu tends to circulate from September until March but the vaccination is available now from pharmacists and GP surgeries. I would urge everyone who is eligible for the vaccination to go and get it as soon as possible to protect themselves and those around them.” 

To get your vaccine or find out if you are eligible, contact your GP, pharmacist or midwife for more information. Visit nhs.uk/staywell for more details on how to help you and your family to stay well this winter.

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