Over 65s - please don't forget your flu jab

Date published: 30 November 2018

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NHS Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group’s Governing Body Practice Nurse is encouraging older people to sort their free flu jab and get protected before winter rears its head.

Stocks of the vaccine designed for over 65s are now fully available – meaning anyone who still needs the jab can get it before the flu season hits.

The free jab offer is available at GP surgeries and pharmacies.

All that ordered stocks of the adjuvanted trivalent flu vaccine, or aTIV, have now taken delivery.

Irene Shepherd, Practice Nurse at Hopwood House Practice and Governing Body Nurse for NHS Oldham CCG, part of the Oldham Cares Alliance, said: “Rates of flu cases are currently very low, but we are expecting flu season to properly start to hit in the next few weeks.

“This year the aTIV vaccination has been developed especially for older people, and is deemed ‘the most effective flu vaccination in the world’.

"It’s certainly the best possible way for people to protect themselves and the people around them.”

The NHS is also providing flu vaccinations for other at-risk groups such as pregnant women and people with long-term conditions, as well as for NHS and care staff.

There is also a nasal spray, which works better in younger people, and is free of charge for children.

In Oldham, campaign materials have been circulated to encourage people in at-risk groups to take up the flu jab offer, including social media advertising, posters and leaflets into GP practices and health centres.

Patients and residents may also have caught sight of Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership’s eye-catching ‘Matilda Challenge’ video designed to encourage people to take all the necessary healthcare precautions including stocking up on over the counter medicines for winter illnesses and using the right services, whether that’s your local pharmacy or your local GP practice, which may be offering extended hours appointments at their location or one close by.

Check the video out (below).

Other initiatives have included a ‘fluathon’ where GP surgeries organised extra sessions for two and three-year-olds to be vaccinated – Irene’s practice took part, vaccinating dozens of  children in a matter of hours.

Irene added: “After last year’s extremely difficult flu season the message that flu is much, much worse than a bad cold is out there. It’s something to take very seriously.

“Catching flu at any age can make you very ill, and can lead to hospitalisation and in the worst cases, death.

“More vaccines than ever before are now available and I strongly encourage everyone in a vulnerable group or who has a family member who meets this criteria to contact their GP or pharmacy and get their jab booked in.”

Pensioner David Ashley, aged 73, had his flu vaccination at the Hopwood House surgery in Oldham.

After catching flu in his 50s and being bedridden for more than a week, he vowed “never again” and has booked in for his jab every year at the first opportunity.

David said: “Like a lot of people I didn’t know how bad having the flu was until I actually caught it myself; me and my wife were ill for more than a week and not quite right for weeks afterwards.

“Since then I have never missed a flu vaccination.

"Given that it’s no hassle at all and also free once you’re 65 why wouldn’t you do it?”

Find out more about the flu vaccination at: NHS.net/fluvaccination

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Whatever winter throws at us, we’re ready