The health service in England has prepared for its largest ever flu protection drive to help keep people well and ease pressure on urgent care services over the colder months.
The number of people eligible has topped 25 million this year as the offer of the vaccine is now extended to all primary school aged children – an extra 600,000 children. NHS commissioned school vaccination teams, maternity services, general practices and local pharmacies are all now gearing up to deliver vaccines to primary school aged children, two and three-year olds, those with underlying health conditions, pregnant women and older adults (aged 65 years and over).
Employers of front line health and social care workers also have a responsibility to ensure their staff can get the free vaccine. A record number of NHS staff – almost three quarters of a million, or 70.3% of front line workers – took up their workplace jab last year.
Eligible adults are encouraged to get their free vaccine from their GP or pharmacy to help protect themselves and their families before flu reaches its seasonal peak.
As well as getting the vaccine, practising good hand hygiene by catching coughs and sneezes in a tissue, throwing it away and washing your hands after can help limit its spread – catch it, bin it, kill it.
Professor Stephen Powis, NHS England national medical director, said:
“People might think that flu is just a cough or cold, but actually this serious illness can have devastating effects on people including causing death in some cases.
“NHS services across in England have been working hard to prepare for the winter season, including staff in every part of the country getting their flu jab in the coming weeks, so now we’re appealing to the public to Help Us, Help You by ensuring that you, your children or relatives take up the free and convenient flu vaccine as soon as you can.”