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It’s not too late to protect yourself and your loved ones from flu this year

Doctors in Pennine Lancashire are reminding people that it isn’t too late to protect themselves, their family and those they care for by visiting their GP practice or nearest convenient pharmacist for the annual flu vaccination if they haven’t already done so. The flu virus can cause a sudden high temperature, headache, general aches and pains, tiredness, sore throat, coughing, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhoea, exhaustion and a general feeling of being unwell.

According to Public Health England (PHE) the flu vaccine is ‘more important than ever’ due to the risk from COVID-19 as although it cannot protect against Coronavirus, it will help the NHS cope better throughout the winter months – especially if there is another spike on coronavirus cases.

Dr Pervez Muzaffar, a GP in Darwen and a clinical lead at Blackburn with Darwen and East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Groups, said:
“Flu isn’t pleasant for most people, but they fully recover from it quite easily. However, there is a much greater risk that flu will lead to serious complications in others depending upon the circumstance.

“We encourage pregnant women, whatever their stage of pregnancy, the over 65s and anyone with any chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes and chronic heart disease to get the vaccine as soon as possible. For individuals in these at risk groups who still haven’t had their vaccine it is vital to take this seriously and act now.”

As many of the groups who are vulnerable to flu are also more vulnerable to COVID-19, not only do we want to help protect those most at risk of flu, but we need to protect the health of those who are vulnerable to hospitalisation and death from COVID-19 by ensuring they do not get flu.

You are eligible to receive a free flu vaccination if you:
• are aged 50 and older
• are pregnant
• have a chronic medical condition
• are living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility
• are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill

Children aged 2 and 3 along with all primary school children and children in year 7 at secondary are also eligible. Children up to the age of 17 with a long-term health condition such as diabetes are also entitled to the vaccination. The vaccination reduces the likelihood of flu outbreaks in schools, where symptoms may be confused with those of COVID-19.

Contact your GP surgery to book a flu vaccine or visit: www.nhs.uk/Service-Search/find-a-pharmacy to find your local pharmacy.