NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is encouraging those eligible to get their flu vaccination and help minimise the spread of flu this winter.

The following groups of people are eligible for free flu vaccinations, either via their GP or pharmacist;

  • all adults over the age of 65, pregnant women,
  • children aged 2 and 3 years old (on 31 August 2019),
  • people aged 6 months to 64 years with underlying health conditions or those with a learning disability.

These groups are at particular risk from flu and the vaccination is still the best protection against an unpredictable virus.

Social care and hospice workers are also eligible and vaccination will be available through community pharmacy or their registered general practice on presentation of evidence of employment.

Children aged between school years reception and year 6 will be offered the nasal spray at school if appropriate.

Flu is a severe viral infection of the respiratory tract (nose, mouth, throat, bronchial tubes and lungs). It is a highly infectious illness which spreads rapidly in communities and even people with mild or no symptoms can infect others. Flu is different to a common cold; symptoms of flu include a fever, chills, headache, aching muscles and joint pain and fatigue.

Dr Terry Hudsen, a GP and Chair at Sheffield CCG, said: “For most healthy people, flu symptoms can make you feel exhausted and unwell and you have to stay in bed and rest until you get better, but for people with underlying health conditions, children, pregnant women or the elderly flu can be very serious.

“It’s really important that if you are eligible for a free flu jab you take up the offer. It is offered to these vulnerable groups of people because we know that they need it to stay well during the flu season. There is a common myth that the flu vaccination gives you flu - this isn’t true, the injected flu vaccination given to adults contains inactivated flu virus, so it can’t give you the flu.”

People over 65 should have already been invited to flu clinics, if you are in this age bracket and haven’t been invited to a flu clinic yet, please contact your GP.

Pregnant women, parents of children aged 2 and 3 years old, people with underlying health conditions or those with a learning disability should contact their GP to find out when flu clinics are being held in their practice. The clinics for this group of people will run from October.

The elderly, people with long term health conditions and pregnant women will be given the vaccination as an injection and children aged 2 – 18 years old will be offered the nasal spray unless contra-indicated. The NHS vaccinations will be provided free of charge by their GP. Some community pharmacies can offer the vaccinations for these patients from age 18.

If you are not in the at risk groups but would like a flu vaccination, you can pay for the vaccination at your local pharmacy.

Dr Hudsen continues: “Aside from having your flu vaccine, the best way to prevent the spread of flu is to practice good hand hygiene. Catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue, throw the tissue away and wash your hands. If you think you have flu, stay home and rest until you feel better, call NHS 111 if you have an underlying health condition or feel really unwell.

“Having a well-stocked medicine cabinet is useful for if flu strikes – paracetamol (or Calpol for children), ibuprofen, aspirin, cough medicine and throat lozenges may help alleviate the symptoms of flu. Remember, your local pharmacists can advise on the medicine you need to help you feel better.”

For more information about the flu vaccination visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine/.