It’s that time of year again. No, not Christmas (yet!) – I’m talking about flu season.
It might not be the most attractive topic for an MP to address, but I believe it is incredibly important that people are made aware of the free vaccine available from the NHS. Almost everyone can benefit from the jab, and so it’s well worth taking two minutes to sign up for it.
Whilst flu is just an irritant for some people, it can have very serious consequences for the elderly, the young, and those with underlying medical conditions. In particular, the Department of Health recommends the vaccine for:
- Everyone over the age of 65, as well as two and three year olds.
- All pregnant women.
- Everyone living in a residential home, or working in care.
- Everyone under 65 who has a heart condition, chest problems, kidney disease, poor immunity, diabetes, liver disease, a neurological condition or spleen issues.
New steps have been taken to encourage the vaccine for children as they tend to be more susceptible, and can pass on the illness to their siblings and friends very easily. A safe and effective nasal spray has been developed, which will be available to children over 2. This is a much quicker method of administration, and will hopefully avoid any tears!
It is worth bearing in mind that there are some people who shouldn’t have the jab – Certain types of vaccine are unavailable to those who have had a previous allergic reaction to a flu injection, those allergic to hens’ eggs, and people with certain immunodeficiencies. If you are unsure, consult your GP.
There are some common side effects, and like any other vaccine it can’t protect against 100% of influenza infections. However, for the vast majority of people involved, this year’s immunization drive will protect against up to four strains of the virus until late 2014.
The vaccine is a very effective way to avoid suffering from the flu this winter, and so I urge as many people as possible to go to their GP as soon as possible.
More information can be found at http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vaccinations/Pages/flu-influenza-vaccine.aspx