NHS organisations in Gloucestershire have launched a campaign to encourage people who are eligible to get vaccinated against flu this winter.

This year the flu vaccine is being offered to children aged two, three or primary school age (as a nasal spray), people aged 65 and over, pregnant women and anyone who is living with a long term condition.

For most healthy people, flu is an unpleasant illness from which they recover within a week. However, some people are more susceptible to the effects of flu and are at increased risk of developing more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia, or making existing conditions worse.

In serious cases, seasonal flu can lead to a stay in hospital. In the worst cases it can result in death.

You are likely to be particularly vulnerable if you have a long term condition such as asthma, diabetes, liver or heart disease or a weakened immune system.

The vaccination is also advised for pregnant women because both mother and unborn baby are at particular risk from the flu, in some cases leading to complications such as premature birth and low birth weight.

A nasal spray is available for children aged two to eleven. This offers a quick, easy and painless way to help prevent them catching flu whilst also reducing its spread to more vulnerable people, such as grandparents or pregnant mums.

Caroline Halford, Head of School Aged Immunisations at Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our team vaccinates pupils from Reception to Year Six, so we have 10 weeks to vaccinate an eligible cohort of 49,000 children in 287 schools across the county.

“You can imagine that it takes quite a lot of planning and while the nasal spray we use is quick and painless, it is really important that parents help us by filling in a consent form for their child, either consenting or declining the offer. Forms have been sent to schools with their session details.

“We also offer community catch up clinics for children who did not attend a school-based session. Details can be found on our website, and again we ask for a consent form from a parent or guardian.”

Dr Hein Le Roux, NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Governing Body GP, said:

“Flu can spread really easily and even without symptoms you could pass it on to a loved one or colleague.

It can lead to serious health complications for people who already have a long term condition and so it is vital that those who are eligible for the vaccination take it up.

You wouldn’t get into a car and not put on a seat belt or let your child go out on their bike without a helmet? So why go into the winter season and not have a flu jab?”

People working in the NHS are also being helped to receive the flu jab through a range of initiatives taking place including peer vaccination and drop-in clinics in the workplace.

Craig Bradley, Associate Chief Nurse and Deputy Director of Infection Prevention and Control at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Staff choosing to get their flu vaccine protects us and our families, ensuring we can stay healthy to deliver the best care and keep our patients safe during the winter months.”

Who is eligible for the free flu vaccination this winter 2018/19:

  • Those aged 65 years and over
  • Pregnant women
  • Those living in a residential or nursing home
  • The main carer of an older or disabled person
  • Children aged 2-3 and those at primary school
  • Frontline health and social care workers should also be offered the flu vaccination by their employer
  • Those aged under 65 with serious health conditions including:
  • A heart problem
  • A chest complaint or breathing difficulties, including COPD, bronchitis, emphysema or asthma
  • Kidney disease
  • Lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (such as steroid medication or cancer treatment)
  • Liver disease
  • Stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
  • Diabetes
  • A neurological condition e.g. multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy or learning disability
  • A problem with spleen e.g. sickle cell disease, or you have had spleen removed.