People in Hull are being urged to take up the offer of a free flu vaccine which could protect against becoming seriously – even fatally – ill this winter. Anyone aged over 65, people with a long-term health condition, pregnant women and children aged up to ten are all eligible for a free vaccination. Front-line workers including NHS staff can also receive it, to protect vulnerable people and themselves.
Last year, across the wider Yorkshire and Humber area, more than 300 people were admitted to intensive care units after catching flu. Eligible adults are encouraged to get their free vaccine from their local general practice or pharmacy before the end of November to protect themselves and their families before flu reaches its seasonal peak. It is the single best way to protect against a potentially very serious illness.
This year, to increase the effectiveness of the vaccine, two types have been developed for specific groups of people. The ‘adjuvanted’ vaccine, for those aged 65 and over, significantly boosts effectiveness by improving the body’s immune response to the vaccine. This is important because typically older adults’ bodies do not respond as well to the flu vaccine due to their naturally weaker immune systems
All eligible adults under 65 will receive a ‘quadrivalent’ vaccine in injected form, which contains two strains of Flu A and two strains of Flu B, as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The main strains that circulated last winter were Flu A(H3N2), which largely affects older people, and Flu B.
Dr James Crick, Consultant in Public Health Medicine and Associate Medical Director, works across Hull City Council and Hull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). He said: “We can’t over-emphasise how important it is for those people eligible for a free vaccine to take up that offer. You’re protecting yourself and those around you from an illness which is seriously debilitating and capable of putting you in hospital and, at worst, can be fatal.
“We can’t predict with absolute certainty how flu will affect the population in any given year, but the vaccine is the best protection we have. It’s crucial that people understand the vaccine does not and cannot give you flu because the virus contained in the vaccine is inactivated. It can cause a slight temperature and aching muscles, but this is nothing like the severity of actually catching flu”.
The flu vaccine is available now and eligible adults are encouraged to get theirs free from their local general practice or pharmacy before the end of November. 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.