Flu vaccination

As the winter approaches so does the cough, cold and flu season and every year the NHS begins a vaccination programme to fight flu.

The flu season is really unpredictable but the best way to try and prevent it is by getting vaccinated if you are invited to do so by your GP or pharmacist.

Flu is a highly infectious illness and, for most healthy people, although it is really unpleasant, it usually lasts just a week or so. However, for some people, including older people and very young children, those with an underlying health condition and women who are pregnant, it can be a much more serious illness.

That is why the NHS launches a vaccination programme each year.

This year the NHS has three different flu vaccines available for different age groups, with each eligible group being offered the most appropriate vaccine for them.

The first vaccine is the adjuvanted trivalent flu vaccine (aTIV) which has been licensed for use by people who are 65 and over. The second is quadrivalent vaccine (QIV) which is for children aged 6 months to two years and adults between 18 and 65 years old who are at increased risk from flu because of long term health conditions. The third is the live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) which is a nasal spray vaccine for children and young people between two and 18 years old.

The vaccination programme began in September and people who are eligible will be invited for their injection over the next few months. If you have not had an invite, and you think you may be eligible, contact your GP surgery. The key message from the NHS is that it is ‘never too late to get your flu jab’.

In previous years, the vaccine has not always worked as well as it should, with the flu mutating during the year.

I hope that this year, by having specific vaccinations for different age groups, the flu season will not be as virulent as previous years and there will be less serious illnesses as a result.

I would urge everyone who is eligible, which includes frontline health and social care workers, to have the vaccination so they are protected this winter.