NHS organisations and the County Council 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 to eight (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.

Dr Jeremy Welch, NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Governing Body GP, said:

“It’s really important that people who are most vulnerable to health complications associated with flu protect themselves by getting vaccinated.

Even people whose health conditions are well managed and who lead otherwise healthy lives should still have the flu vaccine – it’s free because you need it.

We are also encouraging nurses, doctors and other staff who care for patients to get vaccinated to prevent them from catching flu or passing the virus on to patients.”

This year, Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (GHNHSFT) has been inspired by a campaign run by Birmingham Children’s Hospital in 2016. For every staff member who has their flu vaccination, the Trust will work with Unicef to purchase a 10p Tetanus jab for a child in the third world as part of a ‘Get a Jab, Give a Jab’ campaign.

Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s Nursing Director, Steve Hams said:

“Flu targets people who are weakened and vulnerable, so it’s crucial that we do everything we can to keep the virus away from patients. By having our vaccinations we are protecting ourselves, our patients, our friends and our family.

This year, we are doing more than just working to protect our staff, patients and pregnant women in our care by encouraging them to get the flu jab, we are also helping to protect mums and babies in Africa.

We hope that by taking part in the ‘get a jab, give a jab’ campaign, we will inspire even more of our colleagues to get vaccinated.”

Cllr Tim Harman, cabinet member for public health at Gloucestershire County Council is urging anyone who is offered the free flu vaccination to take up the offer early in the flu season, adding: “The flu vaccine changes every year to fight the latest strains of flu, so even if you had a jab last winter you will need another one this year to stay protected.

“We offer the seasonal flu jab to our front line staff and firefighters as they meet members of the public every day so protecting them against flu helps them, and the people around them.”

“If you’re at risk, take preventative action now to protect yourself and those you care about.

A nasal spray is available for children aged two to eight. 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.”

The public flu campaign is supported by three short videos which illustrate the importance of taking up the offer of a vaccination.

To watch videos and learn about the potential consequences of not getting vaccinated, visit https://www.gloucestershireccg.nhs.uk/flu-free or search the hashtag #FluFree on Twitter.