Flu season set to begin – older people and carers urged to get crucial vaccination

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Older people and carers, who are more at-risk of catching flu and suffering complications, are urged to get their vaccination early to prevent illness.

Flu is an unpredictable virus that can cause mild or unpleasant illness in most people, but it can cause severe illness and even death among vulnerable groups. As flu starts circulating in the community at this time, the NHS strongly encourages carers and people aged 65 and over to take up the offer of a free flu vaccination at their GP practice so that they are protected against the changing strains of the virus that circulate each year.

Dr Helen Hibbs, Chief Officer of NHS Wolverhampton CCG, said: “Flu is a highly infectious disease which is easily spread from one person to another. Flu symptoms can be particularly severe for adults over 65, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. By getting the flu jab you are significantly reducing your chances of developing flu over the coming winter months. It has been recognised for many years that people 65 years and older are at greater risk of serious complications from the flu compared with young, healthy adults because human immune defences become weaker with age.

“As a carer for someone else, it can be easy to overlook your own health.  Flu can knock even the healthiest people off their feet for a couple of weeks, making it impossible for a carer to look after the person in their care. This is why the NHS offers a free flu vaccination for all registered carers. It’s not just about protecting you as a carer from getting flu, but also preventing you from passing the virus onto the vulnerable person you care for. 

Both formal and informal carers do a fantastic job of looking after others within the community and it is important that they are protected against flu so that they can continue in their caring role.

Carers and people aged 65 and over are entitled to a free flu vaccination every year and should visit their GP practice to get it from September, which is considered the start of the ‘flu season’.