Having a flu vaccination will help protect you, your family and your NHS

Health chiefs are urging people in Norfolk and Waveney to have a flu vaccine to help protect themselves and their families and ease pressure on the NHS this winter.

GP surgeries and community pharmacies have begun vaccinating local people against flu. This year there will be a change to the way flu vaccinations are delivered as health teams need to factor in social distancing and infection prevention measures in order to continue to keep people safe. Due to this, vaccinations will be delivered in a phased way with various cohorts of patients being invited at different times.

Some GP practices may be offering drive-through appointments at community centres or village halls, and practices are contacting those eligible by letter, telephone or text to offer specific time appointments rather than the usual drop-in sessions. Please be patient – you don’t need to contact your GP practice as they’ll be in touch with you. Alternatively you can contact a pharmacy for an appointment.

Many local community pharmacies are also offering bookable flu vaccination appointments for those who are eligible. So please contact your pharmacy for details. Pharmacies are working with GP colleagues to ensure the best possible access to the vaccine for all eligible groups and may be able to offer evening or weekend appointments.

This year will be the most comprehensive flu programme ever, with more people eligible for the free NHS vaccine which will be given over the next few months. With this in mind, NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is urging the public to have the vaccine for flu if they are eligible as it will reduce the risk of catching and spreading the virus over the winter months.

Flu can cause severe illness and even death among vulnerable groups, as well as complications like bronchitis and pneumonia.

Patients in ‘at risk’ groups who are eligible to receive a free flu vaccination include:

  • everyone aged 65 years or over
  • women who are pregnant
  • those aged six months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups including patients who suffer from a chronic illness, such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), kidney disease, hepatitis, Parkinsons, HIV and diabetes
  • children aged two or three years old on 31 August 2020
  • all primary school-aged children
  • children with a health condition that puts them at a greater risk of fluthose in
  • long-stay residential care homes
  • Carers - including young carers, parent carers and adult carers - who are looking after a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, mental health or addiction cannot manage without their support
  • All frontline health and social care workers

This year also includes:

  • year 7 secondary school-aged children – these vaccinations will take place at school
  • household members of those who may have been shielding
  • later in the year the age range may extend to those aged 50-64

Later this year, the flu vaccine may be offered to 50-64 year olds providing there is sufficient vaccine, and no NHS appointments will be offered for this age group until then. This is to ensure that those who are most at risk are vaccinated first. 

If you are 50-64 and you are in one of the other groups which is eligible for the flu vaccination, for example you have a health condition which puts you at risk from the flu, you will be invited earlier.

Dr Anoop Dhesi, a GP and Chair of NHS Norfolk and Waveney CCG, said: “Across Norfolk and Waveney we are working hard on our vaccination program plans and our GPs, nurses, community pharmacists and others will be going to great lengths this year to give this vital protection to many more people in a safe and convenient way. So when the time comes I would urge everyone invited for a flu vaccination to get it as soon as possible.

“At this time of the coronavirus pandemic, we should not be complacent about the dangers which flu presents to our communities every winter.  Particularly for older patients if they get flu it can be a very debilitating condition. Unfortunately, people do die every year from flu.”

“We particularly want to encourage over 65s, pregnant women, those with certain medical conditions, carers and those who have been shielding to get the vaccine. I would urge all people who fit into the key groups to think about being vaccinated this year, it could save lives and help protect the NHS this winter.”

More information on who is eligible for the flu vaccine is available here https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/who-should-have-flu-vaccine/