People aged over 65 years living across Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES) are receiving a new type of flu jab this year, which is considered to be more effective for this age group than the other vaccines available.
The new vaccine is one of three types of flu jabs offered to individuals who are eligible for free vaccination, to make sure as many people as possible get the right jab to protect them against flu this winter.
Chris Clapp, Practice Manager at The Pulteney Practice in Bath speaking on behalf of the 24 GP practices in B&NES, said:
“This year, GP practices and pharmacies are receiving their stocks of the new vaccine in deliveries during September, October and November. This means if you’re over 65 years, you might get called in or offered your flu jab slightly later than you did last year, but it’s still really important that you get your jab, even if it is later in the season than usual. It’s the most effective way to protect you against flu and the complications flu can bring.”
If you are eligible for a free flu jab because you are aged 65 years or over, have a long-term medical condition like asthma or diabetes, or you are pregnant, you can get vaccinated at your GP practice or at a community pharmacy offering a vaccination service.
Dr Ian Orpen, Clinical Chair of NHS Bath and North East Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, whose membership includes all GP practices in B&NES said:
“Typically, older adults’ bodies do not respond as well to the flu vaccine because of their naturally weakened immune systems. This new vaccine works to improve the immune response in over 65s, who are also at more risk of serious complications if they do catch flu.”
The new vaccine is also expected to help reduce the number of GP consultations this winter by up to 30,000. It could also reduce the number of people admitted to hospital by 2,000 and prevent more than 700 deaths from flu across England, helping to reduce some of the health burden that flu can place on the NHS, workplaces and the wider population.
If you are eligible for a free flu jab or want to check whether you or someone close to you is, contact your GP, midwife or usual healthcare provider. Visit nhs.uk/fluvaccine for more information.
About flu and flu vaccinations
People who are eligible for the flu vaccine this year include:
- Adults aged 65 and over
- Adults aged 18-64 with a chronic health condition
- Children aged 2-3 via their GP practice
- School children in years reception, 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5
- Pregnant women
- Health and social care workers
- Morbidly obese people
School-aged children in reception and years 1–5 will be offered the vaccination at school by school nursing teams.
Adults with chronic conditions need the flu vaccine because 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 to die. The risk is far worse for those with chronic liver disease, who are 48 times more likely to die if they get flu.
Flu is a viral infection that is spread through coughs and sneezes. Most people recover with rest in a week, but people with chronic conditions or who are over 65 should call NHS 111. Doctors may prescribe antivirals in some cases which can help speed up recovery but is not a cure.
- There is no cure for flu. Getting the vaccine if you are eligible and practising good hand hygiene is the best way to prevent yourself from getting it.
- The flu vaccine typically becomes available in early October. The vaccine is offered through local GPs and pharmacies.
- We cannot predict with certainty which strains will circulate in the UK this winter. The WHO makes recommendations for the composition of the northern hemisphere flu vaccine every year, and this is published six months in advance to allow for vaccine production times.
- The adjuvant active vaccine which PHE and the NHS is recommending this year for people aged 65 and over was licenced for use in the UK in adults 65 and over in September 2017. It has previously been used in other countries.