65 or Over? – Get ‘Flu-Safe’ and Get Immunised This Winter

Shropshire Council’s public health team and Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are urging older people in Shropshire to get ‘flu-safe’ and get immunised, to help protect them from the virus this winter.

People aged 65 or over can get a free flu immunisation on the NHS at their local GP surgery.  This will give them the best possible protection against the virus.

Flu is not like a bad cold, it is a debilitating condition which affects the whole body.  It can increase the risk of developing more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia, or can make existing conditions worse.  Serious cases of flu can result in being admitted to hospital, and in some instances could be fatal.

Those who care for older people are also advised to get vaccinated, to protect not only themselves but the person they care for, who may be particularly vulnerable.

Karen Calder, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for health, said:

“If you are over 65, or care for an older person, it is vital to get a flu immunisation, to protect you at the time of year when people are most vulnerable.  Get ‘flu-safe’ in time for the winter.

“People are often worried that the side effects of the flu vaccine are just as bad as having the flu itself, and are put off by hearing that the vaccination might give you flu.  I can categorically state that this isn’t the case, and urge those over 65 not to let common misconceptions put them off accepting the offer of a vaccination.

“I would also strongly encourage people who have friends and family aged over 65 to encourage them to have their free flu vaccine.”

Dr Caron Morton, Accountable Officer for Shrosphire CCG, said:

“Flu is a potentially serious and very unpleasant illness.  But you are not just helping yourself by being immunised against flu, you are also protecting your own loved ones and other potentially vulnerable people that you come into contact with.

“The bigger picture is that pressure on all hospitals always increases in the winter months. By having the vaccination you can help reduce the number of avoidable hospital admissions, and allow doctors and nurses to concentrate their efforts on other patients.”

Dr Irfan Ghani, consultant in public health medicine at Shropshire Council, added:

“Older people’s immune systems tend to become gradually less effective with advancing age, so it is vital to take these opportunities for boosting your immunity to flu.  It’s also important to point out that the flu vaccine does not contain live viruses, so it cannot give you the flu.

“So help protect yourself and those around you by contacting your GP to arrange a convenient appointment and get your immunisation.  It’s quick, safe and free for those aged 65 or over.”

For further information about flu vaccination, including who should have it, visit http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/pages/who-should-have-flu-vaccine.aspx

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