Fighting flu – winter vaccination is everybody’s business

Last year nearly 2,400 people had to be admitted to hospital with flu or flu-related complications – the vast majority during the winter period. Yet many of these admissions could have been avoided altogether if the patients had received the flu and pneumonia vaccinations they were entitled to get for free.

Both illnesses are potentially fatal and the NHS’s annual immunisation programme is undertaken every winter to protect those in our community who are most at risk. The flu vaccination is available free for over-65s, people with long-term health conditions, children in particular age groups, pregnant women, and health and care staff. Babies, over-65s and people with long-term illnesses are also eligible for the pneumonia vaccine.

Getting vaccinated doesn’t just protect the individual – it also protects the wider community by restricting the spread of illness.

Here in Northamptonshire we know we can do more to protect against winter illness by ensuring more people get vaccinated. As part of NHCP’s work to support better health and wellbeing for people with respiratory conditions, we’re making it a priority this year to focus on improving our vaccination uptake.

David Williams, NHCP lead for respiratory care, said: “We’ll do this by offering additional support to help GP practices vaccinate more people and explore opportunities to reach those most at risk of flu and pneumonia in different ways. We’ll also be launching a new and improved local communications campaign to help more people across Northamptonshire understand the importance of vaccination and the benefits it brings.

“If you work or volunteer in health and care, we all have a shared responsibility to protect the communities we serve by getting the flu jab. In the run-up to winter we’ll be working with all of our health and care organisations to take the flu jab to more staff and volunteers than ever before – so look out for opportunities in your own workplace and make sure you do your bit to help Northamptonshire stay well!”

If you’d like to get involved in helping to improve vaccination uptake in Northamptonshire please contact Colin Thompson at cthompson@northamptonshire.gov.uk.

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