Sefton’s annual flu vaccination campaign is now underway and former Liverpool FC star, Jamie Carragher, is joining forces with local health professionals to encourage residents eligible for the jab to make sure they get protected.
Flu is a really unpleasant illness, which most people recover from themselves over about a week. Some people are at a much greater risk from the serious effects of flu, including pregnant women, the very young, people of any age with health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes, weakened immune systems, and older people.
Each winter, tens of thousands of people in England end up in hospital because of flu with hundreds dying from a complication of seasonal flu.
Jamie, who received the Freedom of Sefton in 2006, said: “Flu can affect any one of us, no matter what our age or how fit and well we feel. However, there are still a lot of people who don’t take up the offer of their free annual flu jab because they don’t think they need one but there are people that flu can hit hard, so if you’re eligible, make sure you get yours.”
Free flu vaccinations are being offered to all pregnant women, all children aged 2 to 4, residents of all ages with a long term health condition and everyone aged 65 and over. Most people who are eligible can get vaccinated at their local GP practice.
Some pharmacies offer the flu vaccine to people aged 18 and over which is free for those who are eligible with a cost for those who are not.
Rachael Musgrave, Sefton Council's consultant in Public Health, said: “Flu can be very serious and should not be underestimated. I strongly encourage people who are eligible for a free flu vaccination to take up the offer to protect themselves.
"The flu vaccination is one of the most effective ways to reduce harm from flu and drastically reduces serious illness, hospitalisation and even death among those who are most at risk."Pregnant women can safely have the flu vaccine anytime in pregnancy to protect themselves and their unborn baby. The vaccine reduces the risk of complications of flu like premature birth and pneumonia and all pregnant women should take up the offer."
The flu virus is very unpredictable and, some years, flu causes more sickness than others because new strains emerge and spread. This is why it is really important for people eligible for a free flu vaccination to get it every year.
Dr Craig Gillespie, chair of NHS South Sefton CCG added: “Anyone of any age with an existing health condition, like asthma or diabetes should also get vaccinated, even if they generally feel healthy and well. This is because a dose of flu can greatly worsen their condition and make complications like pneumonia more likely.”
Dr Rob Caudwell, chair of NHS Southport and Formby CCG, said: "Carers are also eligible for a free flu jab as well as those they look after. If you’re not sure if you’re eligible, or if you have any questions about getting vaccinated, simply contact your GP practice and ask for advice, we’ll be happy to help.”
Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “This annual campaign spreads a really important public health message to protect Sefton residents who are at greater risk of serious effects from flu.
"We want to make sure that everyone who is eligible for a free flu vaccine knows how to get it to make sure they are vaccinated throughout the winter months."
You can find a wide range of information about the annual flu immunisation campaign at http://www.nhs.uk
and if you have any queries about whether you or someone you care for should have the vaccine simply ask at your GP practice. http://www.sefton.gov.uk/26089