At-risk patients urged to have free flu vaccination ahead of colder months

Andrew Karrouze gives Nicholas Carding the flu jab.

Andrew Karrouze gives Nicholas Carding the flu jab. - Credit: Archant

Doctors are urging members of the public to help themselves and the NHS this winter by taking the flu jab which is available to them free of charge.

The message comes as the health service braces itself for the colder months which traditionally see an increase in demand from patients.

But some people, including over-65s, pregnant women, and others with long-term conditions, are being encouraged to get the jab to prevent the illness and associated conditions from developing.

Those groups of people, and certain others, can access the flu jab for free.

Flu, a debilitating condition that affects the whole body, increases the risk of getting bronchitis or pneumonia – and can lead to hospital admission and/or death.

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Ian Wilson, practice manager at Thorpewood Medical Practice, said he expected around 2,800 of the surgery's 3,400-strong cohort of eligible patients to get the jab for free. 'It does save lives,' he said.

'We see a spike in deaths in winter time and when we look back flu might have been the start of a patient's deteriorating condition.'

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He said some people chose not to take the jab because they are worried it could give them flu – a belief which is a complete myth and clinically proven to be untrue.

This is because the jab does not contain live viruses.

Andrew Karrouze, an advanced nurse practitioner at the practice, said the NHS has a target of giving the jab to 55pc of patients who are eligible to have it for free.

Last year's performance stood at around 45pc.

He gave the flu jab to this newspaper's health correspondent, Nicholas Carding, as part of the local NHS' campaign to encourage people to take the jab.

Contact your GP to check if you are eligible for a free flu jab.

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