One of Lancashire and South Cumbria’s leading doctors has warned that working age people with conditions such as heart disease, asthma and diabetes are risking their health by not taking up the offer of a free flu vaccination. Dr Kieran Murphy, Medical Director for NHS England Lancashire and South Cumbria is calling on more adults who are entitled for the flu vaccine to get it this year, in order to protect themselves and to help ease pressures on the NHS.
Last winter 3,344,593 people aged under 65 who have a long term condition were vaccinated – but that represented only 48.9% of the people entitled to have it. Across the country, 9,996 people ended up in hospital as a result of complications due to flu. An average of 8,000 deaths occur annually due to flu related complications. Of these deaths, it is estimated that around 2,500 are people with a heart disease and 3,500 people with a respiratory disease.
Dr Murphy said: “If you have a long-term condition, you really are taking a major risk if you don’t have a flu jab. It’s free for you because the NHS recognises how important it is for you. Flu on top of health conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease can make you more susceptible to complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis, meningitis or encephalitis.
“We know it can be difficult to take time off work to go for a flu jab, but most GPs run vaccination sessions at the weekend and you can also get your free flu jab from local pharmacies.”
Dr Murphy added: “I don’t think people realise just how serious flu can be. It can leave people fighting for breath and suffering from septic shock. After seeing how the flu virus can affect people, my advice would definitely be to get the free flu jab if you are in a high risk group.”
For more information and to check if you are eligible for the free flu vaccine go to: www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine