As flu season is upon us, Dr Amanda Boardman, from NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group, explains why it is important to get the jab to keep you and your community safe.
She said: “The flu vaccination is a vital part of keeping our communities safe this winter, and having a flu jab doesn’t just protect you, it also protects those around you.”
This year, the way you receive your flu vaccine might be a bit different as health teams have to factor in social distancing and infection prevention measures to keep people safe.
Dr Boardman said: “Some surgeries will be offering drive through options, and others will be using local community centres or calling people for time specific appointments, rather than the traditional drop-in clinics.
“It’s really helpful for us if patients who usually get called for the flu jab are ready – so if you usually get the vaccine, please look out for plans from your surgery; they’ll be getting in touch to tell you when and where to go, either by letter, text or phone.
“Please be assured that getting the vaccine is safe, as lots of thought and care has been put into the planning by our primary care teams to protect patients and staff from coronavirus. If you’re contacted by your surgery you’ll be given instructions on the infection prevention measures that your specific practice has put in place.”
There are also some new groups who are receiving the vaccine for the first time this year, “These include members of households where people were shielding and pupils in Year 7 at secondary school,” said Dr Boardman.
She added: “Later in the year we’ll also be looking to extend the vaccine to the over 50s, but it’s important we concentrate our initial efforts on those who are most clinically vulnerable.
“I’d urge anyone who’s eligible for the vaccine to make sure they get it and do your bit to protect yourself and others this winter. With the risks that we already face from coronavirus, we’re asking you to have your flu jab on behalf of everyone else in your community if you’re eligible.
“Although the vaccine won't stop all flu viruses, and the level of protection may vary from person to person, if you do get flu after vaccination it is likely to be milder and shorter-lived than it otherwise might have been.”
As well as GP Practices, local pharmacies, school nursing teams and other health professionals will be delivering the annual vaccination programme.