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GPs urge people to get flu jabs

​Dr​ Nick D'Arcy says it's not too late to get your flu jab

With the number of flu cases set to increase, South Devon and Torbay GPs are urging people to get their jab.

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

This comes as South Devon and Torbay are shown to be below the national average for people getting their flu jab.

For November 2015, at-risk groups such as children aged between two and four (18.9 percent), pregnant women (27.3 percent) and people aged over 65 (47.1 percent) all have a low uptake, despite qualifying for a free vaccination.

Dr Nick D’Arcy, the CCG’s clinical lead for patient quality and safety, 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.”

“For the majority of normally healthy adults flu is unpleasant and inconvenient, and they will usually begin to feel better within a week, the best advice for treating flu in healthy people is to rest, drink plenty of fluids and take appropriate pain relief such as paracetamol.”

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