Free flu vaccines available to more people this year

Health organisations in Sefton are encouraging everyone eligible for a flu vaccine this winter to make an appointment, particularly children aged 2-3, people aged over 65 and anyone who is a carer.

Colette Page, practice nurse lead and influenza coordinator for NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Southport and Formby CCG, said: “The flu kills thousands of people every year. The flu vaccine is safe and effective, and only takes a minute. It’s the best protection for you and those around you. People at high risk from COVID-19 are also most at risk from flu, so it’s more important than ever to protect yourself this year.

“We know some people are concerned about going to their GP practice or local pharmacy due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but I’d like to reassure you that all the necessary infection prevention measures are in place to protect patients and staff.”

Children are known for spreading coughs and colds, and under-5s are more likely to be hospitalised by flu than any other age group. All children born between 1 September 2016 and 31 August 2018 are eligible for the vaccine this winter. A quick spray is squirted up each nostril. It contains small amounts of weakened flu viruses, but they don’t cause flu. Most side effects are mild, and only last for a day or two.

The flu vaccine is also given by injection to people who are 65 and over (including those who’ll be 65 by 31 March 2021). Anyone who receives a carer’s allowance, is the main carer for an older or disabled person, or lives with someone at high risk from coronavirus, is also eligible for the flu vaccine in order to protect the most vulnerable.

Margaret Jones, director of public health for Sefton, said: “Please don’t ignore the flu – it can spread very quickly, and can be fatal in some cases. We are urging everyone who is eligible to take up the free flu vaccine this winter. Remember regular handwashing and using a tissue when you cough, or sneeze also helps stop the spread of flu.”

If you are eligible for the flu vaccine this winter, your GP practice will be in touch to let you know the plans for you to get protected.

For more information, visit the NHS website.

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