As autumn and winter temperatures set in, public health officials in Nottinghamshire are reminding people of all ages to get the annual flu vaccination.
This year, the priorities across the county are to improve the uptake in 2 and 3 year olds, patients under 65 in clinical risk groups and pregnant women.
The flu jab campaign also targets those aged 65 or over, residents in long-stay residential care homes, and people with long-term medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or lung disease.
The seasonal flu jab is offered as a free nasal spray to 2 and 3 year olds. The nasal spray is a quick, easy and painless way to help prevent young children catching flu.
Toddlers are often referred to as “super-spreaders” for tending not to wipe their noses or cover their mouths when sneezing. The nasal spray vaccine last year reduced children’s risk of flu by 65 per cent according to Public Health England. It has been given to millions of children worldwide and has an excellent safety record since it was introduced in 2013.
The flu jab will also be offered to all frontline care staff who are directly employed and those services commissioned by the County Council.
The Council is looking at a three year campaign which will work towards achieving a 75% uptake of the vaccination for frontline workers, a significant increase on the current uptake of 16.8%.
There is clear evidence that a high level of uptake amongst frontline workers helps to protect vulnerable service users in care homes and nursing homes as well as children and adults with long term health conditions.
National Public Health priorities for 2018/19 are:
- To improve the uptake in 2 and 3 year olds to 48% – currently the Mansfield and Ashfield area falls below on both targets and the Newark and Sherwood area falls short for two year olds
- To improve uptake of patients under 65 in clinical risk groups to 55% – currently Mansfield and Ashfield, Newark and Sherwood andNottingham North and East falls below this target
- To improve uptake of pregnant women to 55% – currently Mansfield and Ashfield, Newark and Sherwood and Nottingham North and East falls below this target
Councillor Stuart Wallace, chairman of the Adult Social Care and Public Health Committee, said: “Vaccination is the best protection we have against flu so I would strongly encourage everyone who is included in the at-risk categories to book a flu jab at their general practice or with another healthcare professional.
“We must never forget that flu can kill, so it’s vital that people get vaccinated.
“A flu vaccination is needed every year as the flu virus is very clever and constantly changes. It’s an easy way to avoid the potentially serious complications which occur for some people who catch flu.”
You can get the flu jab for free on the NHS from your local GP or pharmacy if you fall into one of the at-risk categories. High street chemists and most of the leading supermarkets also offer the vaccination to anyone at varying costs.
Last year uptake of the flu vaccination in Nottinghamshire was similar to the national average. If there is an increase in uptake from those most at risk this in turn helps to reduce serious health consequences and hospitalisation amongst these groups as well as GP appointments and pressure on A&E.