Birmingham health chiefs have repeated the call for people at risk across the city to book their flu jabs after it emerged that thousands of patients in England could be risking their health by not having the vaccine.
According to figures released today by the Royal College of General Practitioners. compared with the same period last year over 6% fewer flu jabs have been given by GPs with some family doctors claiming their surgery fridges ‘are full’ of unused vaccines because patients are not turning up in the usual numbers.
This may in part be down to the perceived failures of last year’s vaccine and warmer seasonal weather.
But Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, Cllr Paulette Hamilton, has urged people to think again.
She said: “These figures are worrying and the simple message for anyone at risk in Birmingham is get your flu jab now. It could be a lifesaver.
“It’s a mistake to think of flu as ‘just a bad cold’. It can be a really serious illness for some people and can knock you off your feet. In the most severe cases, seasonal flu might land you in hospital and can even be a killer.”
Flu is a highly contagious infection and, while healthy individuals usually recover within two to seven days, for some the disease can lead to hospitalisation, permanent disability or even death.
Those at greater risk from flu include:
- older people
- the very young
- pregnant women
- those with underlying disease, particularly chronic respiratory or cardiac disease
- those with lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (such as steroid medication or cancer treatment)
Director of Public Health, Dr Adrian Phillips, added: “Flu can increase the risk of developing more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and can make existing conditions much worse.
“It’s not too late to get your jab. It’s quick, safe and free for those most at risk from the virus.”
To book your flu jab, simply contact your GP or a participating pharmacy to arrange a convenient appointment and get your jab.
For more information, speak to your GP or local pharmacist, or visit http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/winterhealth/Pages/Fluandthefluvaccine.aspx
For more information contact Geoff Coleman on 0121 303 3501
Notes to editors
There are a number of myths surrounding the flu jab but the facts are:
- The flu jab can’t give you flu
- The flu jab is perfectly safe
- The flu virus changes, so you need a flu jab every year If you’re pregnant, the flu jab doesn’t harm your unborn baby. In fact it can protect your baby from flu for the first few months of life
- The flu jab also protects against swine flu
- The flu jab isn’t just for older people – pregnant women, those with health conditions, carers, and those with weakened immunity should all get the jab
- The flu jab protects people of all ages
- Flu isn’t just a cold, it can be a really serious illness
Summary of those who are recommended to have the flu vaccine:
- everyone aged 65 and over
- all pregnant women, at any stage of pregnancy
- all two- and three-year-old children
- everyone living in a residential or nursing home
- everyone who cares for an older or disabled person
- household contacts of anyone who is immunocompromised
- all frontline health and social care workers
Even if you feel healthy, you should have the free flu vaccination if you are:
- 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)
- a neurological condition, for example multiple sclerosis (MS) or cerebral palsy
- a problem with your spleen, for example sickle cell disease, or you have had your spleen removed.