Those at risk in Hastings and Rother urged to get flu jab

Four-year-old Grace Whitehead receives the flu vaccine
Four-year-old Grace Whitehead receives the flu vaccine

People at risk of flu are being urged to make sure they get vaccinated before winter sets in.

Health bosses said this week that cases of the infectious disease soar during the winter months, but many people could avoid falling victim simply by taking advantage of the flu jab available for free on the NHS.

Older people, pregnant women, carers of older or disabled people, those with reduced immunity, residential care home residents and people with serious long-term health conditions are all entitled to the free vaccine.

Children aged two to seven also receive the free vaccine in nasal spray form while frontline health and social care staff are encouraged to get vaccinated through their employer.

Last year, 71 per cent of those aged 65 and over and 23 per cent of children aged four were vaccinated in Hastings and Rother.

The national average for over-65s is 72 per cent and for children aged four, 30 per cent.

In East Sussex as a whole uptake among pregnant women increased from 40 to 42 per cent, according to figures.

Cynthia Lyons, East Sussex acting director of public health, said: “Flu is an unpleasant illness for anyone but for those in at-risk groups it can put them at risk of serious problems such as pneumonia.

“Last year, uptake of the vaccine was lower than expected, resulting in more people catching the disease and needing treatment, with the resultant pressure on NHS services that causes.

“Having the flu jab is a quick, simple procedure which is the best way for people to avoid becoming a victim of flu and the complications which can result from it.”

Symptoms of flu, which is spread by coughs and sneezes or touching surfaces on which germs have landed, include fever, chills, headaches, aches and pains in joints and muscles and extreme tiredness.

East Sussex County Council added it was important that people have their flu vaccine every year, as it protects against different strains of flu which change and evolve each year.

People in at-risk groups can get the flu jab by talking to their GP or practice nurse.

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