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HEALTH organisations are encouraging everyone eligible for a free NHS flu vaccine to make an appointment as soon as possible this winter.

It’s a message that local health professionals are particularly keen to get across to the parents and carers of children aged 2-3, because take up among this group tends to be fairly low in Liverpool.

Dr Mark Wigglesworth, Medical Director of Liverpool Networks Alliance, a local GP and part of the Liverpool Flu Group explains: “I really want to encourage parents with young children to make an appointment for your child to have the nasal flu spray at your local GP practice as soon as possible. Children are known for spreading coughs and colds over winter, and under-5s are also more likely to be hospitalised by flu than any other age group.

“Getting the nasal flu vaccine is quick, safe and effective, and it not only helps protect your child from illness, but it will also help protect other vulnerable family members who you might see over the coming months too, such as grandparents, or any friends and relatives with long term conditions.”

All children born between 1 September 2016 and 31 August 2018 are eligible to have the nasal flu vaccine at their GP practice this winter.

In addition, all school-aged children in Reception to Year 7 will be offered the vaccine in school with parental consent, and those in Year 8 upwards with a long-term condition are also eligible to get a vaccine from their GP.

Local health professionals are also keen to encourage all patients eligible for a free NHS flu vaccination, to make an appointment to get one as soon as possible this winter. This includes:

  • Pregnant women
  • People aged 65+
  • Those with long-term conditions e.g. diabetes, asthma or other respiratory conditions
  • Those living in residential care homes or other long-stay care facilities
  • Those in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or the main carer of an older or disabled person
  • Those with a learning disability
  • All health and social care workers (via their employer)
  • Anyone who was previously on the Government’s Shielded Patient List, and their other household members

Dr Janet Bliss, a local GP and Vice-Chair of NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group said:

“We know that some people may feel concerned about going to their GP practice or pharmacy to get the flu vaccine this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but please don’t let those concerns put you off.

“We want to reassure patients that all local GP practices have put all the necessary infection prevention measures in place to effectively protect patients and staff, such as staggered appointment times, social distancing in waiting rooms, regular hand washing and sanitising, extra cleaning measures, and the effective use of personal protective equipment.

“Getting the flu vaccine is completely safe. It can’t give you the flu or make you unwell, and it’s still one of the best things you can do to protect your own health and the health of your loved ones this winter.”

Justine Hadcroft, Consultant Respiratory Physician, Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, adds:

“We know that people are concerned about COVID-19 at the moment, but the flu also kills thousands of people every winter, and those who are most at risk from flu are often at a higher risk from COVID-19 too. That’s why it’s more important than ever to get your flu jab this year.

“Because of COVID-19 our local hospitals are already much fuller than normal this winter, so any steps you can take to stay well and keep yourself out of hospital such as getting the flu vaccine, could mean an extra bed for someone else.”

If you are eligible for the flu vaccine this winter, please contact your GP practice or local pharmacy now to make an appointment and get yourself protected.