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Get your flu jab

​GPs are urging people to get their flu jab
With the flu season looming, GPs are urging people to get their jab now.

Flu cases tend to peak during the winter months, and for healthy people flu is often worse than a cold – but for some the effects are even more extreme.

Dr Sarah Rowe, a Torquay GP, said: “Each year the NHS prepares for the unpredictability of flu, and it’s really important that those at risk get their free vaccine, because they are at much greater risk of becoming seriously unwell if they catch flu. Sadly, many end up in hospital, and in some cases this can lead to death.

“The at-risk groups include people with health conditions, even those that are well managed, such as asthma, diabetes, heart, lung, liver or renal diseases, those with weakened immune systems, and older people and pregnant women.”

All pregnant women should have the flu vaccine to protect themselves and their babies. The flu vaccine can be given safely at any stage of pregnancy, from conception onwards.

Children aged between two and four years old on 31 August this year can receive a nasal flu vaccine to protect against influenza, so parents are urged to take them for the vaccination when invited by their surgery.

Parents of children this age who haven’t heard from their GP practice should make an appointment now.

Even for those people who feel healthy, they should have the flu vaccination if they have: 

  • a heart problem

  • a chest complaint or breathing difficulties, including bronchitis or emphysema
  • a kidney disease

  • lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (such as steroid medication or cancer  treatment)

  • liver disease

  • had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
  • diabetes 

  • a neurological condition, for example multiple sclerosis (MS) or cerebral palsy
Dr Rowe added: “People aged 65 years or over should also get themselves vaccinated, as should those living in a residential or nursing home.”

“In addition, anyone who is the main carer of an older or disabled person should make an appointment to be vaccinated.”

Dr Rowe encouraged patients to check with their local practice about this year’s arrangements for flu vaccinations.