Vulnerable East Anglian patients urged to take up free flu vaccination

Eligible patients are being urged to take up their free flu vaccination this winter.

Eligible patients are being urged to take up their free flu vaccination this winter. - Credit: PA

Vulnerable patients are being urged to take up their free flu vaccination this winter after it emerged that less than half of East Anglians had the jab last year.

A new campaign was launched today by Public Health England to encourage people in at-risk groups to get themselves protected against influenza.

Last year, 52pc of eligible people between six months and 65 years got themselves vaccinated. However, in Norfolk, only 49.1pc had the jab in 2013/14 and 48.2pc in Suffolk and 50pc in Cambridgeshire.

People with a health condition, pregnant women, and parents of children aged two to four are being urged to get vaccinated to protect themselves against the serious effects of flu.

Public health officials said last year's flu season was less severe than previous years. However, they said people with flu are 11 times more likely to die if they have an underlying health condition.

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Gina Radford, centre director for Public Health England in Anglia and Essex, said flu was an unpredictable virus and it is impossible to predict the impact of the disease and how many serious cases there might be.

'Flu is a really unpleasant illness, particularly for our most vulnerable patients and it is essential that people take steps to protect themselves during the winter months. I would urge those who are offered the free flu vaccination to visit their GP as soon as they can and take up the offer of this simple but effective vaccination,' she said.

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Last year, around 40pc of pregnant women had the vaccination, which is also available for people with a health condition, particularly chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease.

Children up to the age of four are also being offered a nasal spray vaccination this year.

• A regular coach service was diverted at the weekend after extra cars at an annual flu jab clinic made the road dangerous for coaches to pass.

The Sanders 55 service via Westbourne Road and Rectory Road in Coltishall changed route to the village's main road on Saturday due to extra cars parking on either side of the narrow road.

Martin Wise from Sanders Coaches said: 'We quite often encounter problems along this road and at the flu clinic at the doctors' surgery people park on both sides of the road.

'We tell drivers not to mount the pavement but with the trees there it is a recipe for disaster.'

The service has now returned to its usual route.

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