Dr Vindi Bhandal is a senior partner with Sleaford Medical Group and a regular columnist with The Standard, writing on locally relevant health and wellbeing metters. This month she urges everyone eligible for an influenza vaccination to call and book an appointment for the free jab.
As we approach the onset of the ‘flu season’ I would like to inform people about the national flu immunisation programme.
Every year NHS England advises practices and pharmacies of the recommendations of the effective vaccines which should be offered to groups of eligible people on the advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). These include older people, pregnant women, those with certain underlying medical conditions and, since 2013, children.
This year sees a change in the eligibility criteria to extend the offer of vaccination to Year 6 school children, this means that all primary school aged children will now be offered the vaccine in England.
You are eligible and will be invited for your flu vaccination if aged between two to ten on August 31, 2019, if you are aged between six months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups, if you are pregnant, those aged 65 years and above, those in long stay residential care homes, those who are carers, along with close contacts of immune compromised individuals.
All frontline health and social care workers are recommended to take up the flu vaccination for personal protection and prevention of transmission.
There are several recommended vaccines for the different eligible groups of people and your doctor or pharmacist can provide you with the information as to which vaccine is recommended for you.
It is hoped that an increase in the uptake of the vaccine in pre-school children will not only provide individual protection for the children. but reduce the rates of hospital admission in the under fives over the flu season period. In adults who are eligible the aim is to achieve a minimum uptake of 75 per cent, as recommended by the World Health Organisation to help protect the wider community.
So, if you get an invitation to attend for a flu vaccination, I would encourage you strongly to take it up.