The latest flu figures reveal that unpaid carers are not taking advantage of their free flu jab.
Every winter, the vast majority of unpaid carers miss out on a free flu jab, despite the fact that they’re entitled to request one if they’re the main carer for someone who’s ill or disabled and whose health would be at risk if they fell ill.
Only 39 per cent of carers registered with a GP in England opted to protect themselves in the 2018/19 season. That means that almost two thirds of the estimated 6.5 million unpaid carers int he UK were vulnerable to the virus, which can be deadly.
Flu can knock even the healthiest of people off their feet, making it difficult for a carer to look after the person they care for. People under care often have weakened immune systems, so it’s really important for carers to take all the precautions they can to prevent them from catching the virus.
A carer is a person who looks after someone directly; either an elderly family member or one with a long-term condition or a partner or child with a long-term condition. People who receive a carer’s allowance, are the main carer for an elderly person, or disabled person, should be eligible to receive a free flu vaccination this year.
Dr Salma Reehana, GP and Chair at NHS Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “We are calling on all unpaid carers to book their free flu jab to help protect themselves, and their loved ones.
“By having the flu vaccine, it is the most effective way to avoid catching flu. It is especially important that carers are vaccinated to prevent the spread of flu to the vulnerable person they look after.”
Supporting carers is a key concern for the CCG and local GP practices are keen to encourage their patients with unpaid caring responsibilities to make themselves known to their doctor’s surgery, so that their health needs can be prioritised too.
Dr Reehana added: “Carers often prioritise the health of their loved ones and push their own needs to the bottom of the list. Flu is a really unpleasant illness even for people who are generally fit and well, but for unpaid carers who could be tired or run down when they contract the virus, it can take a long time to recover. Flu viruses change every year, so people need to update their vaccination each year to match the new virus. “
To register as a carer at your local GP surgery to find you local GP to make an appointment visit https://www.nhs.uk/Service-Search/GP/LocationSearch/4
Visit the NHS website to find out more about the flu vaccine.