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Get your free flu vaccination now

Older people, young children, pregnant women, carers and residents living with a long-term health condition are being urged to have a free flu vaccination to protect themselves and their families from flu this winter.



Waltham Forest Council’s Public Health Team is advising eligible residents to have their free vaccination at their GP or pharmacist after figures published last month by Public Health England and NHS England revealed that many Waltham Forest residents have yet to take up the offer.



Those eligible for a free flu vaccination are children aged 2 to 4, pregnant women, people aged under 65 with a long-term condition (such as diabetes, asthma, or a weakened immune system), anyone aged 65 and over and carers.



According to the latest figures – showing vaccination uptake amongst GP patients for 1 September 2014 to 31 October 2014 – just 9,749 of the 19,377 registered patients in Waltham Forest aged 65 and over have had their flu jab.



And, of the 9,593 children aged two to four registered at borough surgeries, only 797 have been vaccinated against flu. This year, all children are eligible for the free nasal spray flu vaccine from their GP, which is a quick, effective and painless alternative to the injection.



The vaccination figures also revealed just 572 out of the 2,497 pregnant women registered at Waltham Forest’s GP surgeries, have taken up the offer of a free flu vaccination. 



Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has warned that expectant mothers who catch flu have a higher chance of miscarrying, or having a stillbirth, suffering from pneumonia and other serious infections, or having their baby born prematurely or with a low birth weight.



Cllr Ahsan Khan, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “If you are entitled to a free flu jab then I would urge you to protect yourself and others by arranging to get one from your local GP or pharmacy as soon as you’re able to, before flu starts circulating more widely in the community.



“Medical experts are clear about who is most at risk of severe illness caused by the flu virus, so if you fall into any of the groups listed there’s no reason not to take action – getting vaccinated won’t cost a penny.”



Dr Thaven Chetty, a local GP and NHS Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group’s clinical lead for prescribing, said: “I encourage everyone in a high risk group to get a flu vaccination. 



“Some people avoid it because there is a myth that it can give you the flu, however this is simply not true. The vaccine doesn’t contain any live viruses, so it can’t cause the flu.



“It is important to be vaccinated each year as the viruses that cause the flu change and the vaccination is updated to protect against these new bugs. If you were vaccinated last year you will no longer be protected.”



For more information on seasonal flu and the flu vaccine visit www.nhs.uk/flu or phone 111. If you think you are eligible for a free vaccination, please contact your GP or visit your local pharmacy.



Responsibility for public health transferred to councils in April 2013.

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