Medway residents are being urged to book their flu vaccine and help protect themselves this winter – particularly pregnant women and young children.
A record number of people are being offered the flu vaccine for free, as new research from Public Health England suggests the risk of death more than doubled for people who tested positive for both flu and COVID-19, compared to those with COVID-19 alone.
The research, looking at cases between January and April this year, also found that those with co-infection of the two viruses were more at risk of severe illness. Most cases of co-infection were in older people and more than half of them died.
The parents of children aged two and three as well as pregnant women are particularly being encouraged to book their seasonal flu vaccination, as data shows there is a low number of people in these vulnerable groups who have taken up the offer of a free flu jab.
The NHS is working to provide the free flu vaccine to 30million people nationally, the highest number on record. Those eligible for free flu vaccination include:
- All primary school children and, for the first time, Year 7 children will be offered the flu ‘nasal spray’ in schools to reduce community transmission. Two and three-year-olds will be offered the vaccine through their GP.
- The most vulnerable, including adults aged 65 and over, those with long-term health conditions and pregnant women, will be offered the flu vaccine first through their GP or pharmacy.
- The flu vaccine will also be offered to household contacts of people on the NHS Shielded Patient List as well as all health and all social care workers who have direct contact with the people they care for.
- Once uptake has been maximised in the most at-risk groups, the newly eligible 50-64-year olds will be invited for vaccination later in the season. Anyone who is 50-64 years old with long-term health condition should be vaccinated earlier in the season, in line with all others in risk groups.
Helping protect vulnerable residents
James Williams, Director of Public Health at Medway Council, said: “The flu vaccine is being offered to more people than ever before to help protect those most vulnerable. Flu sadly kills thousands of people in England each year and hospitalises many more. A new flu vaccine is produced each year to help combat against new strains of the virus and with research suggesting that those infected with both flu and COVID-19 face a serious threat of severe illness or death, it’s vitally important that residents get their flu jab. I would also urge parents of children aged two and three to book their little ones a free flu jab and also mums-to-be, as we’ve seen a drop in the number of people in these groups who have been vaccinated against flu.
“We can all play our part to help protect Kent and Medway by following government advice and taking measures to stay safe during the winter season, including regularly washing our hands and social distancing.”
Book your jab to protect yourself this winter
Cllr David Brake, Portfolio Holder covering Public Health for Medway Council, said: “I would encourage all Medway residents who are eligible for the free flu vaccine to book their jab. The pandemic is still very much ongoing, putting many people in our communities at further risk this year due to the threat of catching flu and COVID-19. It is vital that residents protect themselves from the double threat this winter – book your flu vaccine and continue to follow government advice to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.”
Protect yourself. Protect Medway. Protect the NHS.
Flu is most commonly spread through coughs and sneezes. To reduce the spread, residents should:
- Wash hands often with warm water and soap
- Use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze
- Bin used tissues as quickly as possible
Anyone who doesn’t fall into a group for a free vaccine can pay for a flu jab from their local pharmacy (subject to availability).