Burnham-On-Sea children, people over 65, pregnant women and those with long term health conditions are are being urged to get a free flu jab.

Somerset County Council is supporting the Public Health England and NHS joint Stay Well This Winter campaign which launched in Somerset this week with the national flu programme now available to all eligible people.

The UK’s Chief Medical Officer warned this week that flu, and complications associated with it, cause 8,000 deaths on average a year in England.

The flu jab is offered to those who are at increased risk from the effects of flu – these include children aged 2-8, people aged 65 and over, pregnant women and those with long term health conditions.

Those in an ‘at risk’ category and eligible for a free NHS flu jab are:- children aged two and three years; in reception class and school years 1, 2, 3 and 4; children with a health condition that puts them at risk; those aged six months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups; pregnant women; those aged 65 years and over; and those in long-stay residential care homes and carers.

Frontline health and social care workers should be provided flu vaccination by their employer. This includes general practice staff and care home staff.

Trudi Grant, Somerset Director of Public Health said: “Getting the flu jab significantly reduces the risks of serious ill health and I would urge everyone in an ‘at risk’ groups to get the flu jab now before the virus starts circulating in winter.”

“Flu is more serious for people with respiratory diseases, cardiovascular problems and those with chronic liver disease who are far more likely to be seriously ill if they get flu as they are less able to fight off infections.”

“Another way of protecting vulnerable adults is to ensure parents vaccinate children, who are ‘super-spreaders’ of the virus. Last year’s flu vaccination programme reduced the risk of flu in children who received the vaccine by 65%. For healthy children aged 2-8 in Somerset the flu vaccine is given in the form of a nasal spray.”

Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer said: “Flu kills and we could save thousands of lives if everyone eligible got their free jab. Taking a few minutes to get the jab could save your life this winter.”

“People with respiratory diseases like COPD, emphysema or asthma are seven times more likely to die if they catch flu, and people with cardiovascular problems like chronic heart disease or angina, or those who have had a stroke, are eleven times more likely compared to those who don’t. The risk is far worse for those with chronic liver disease, who are 48 times more likely to die if they get flu.”

“Maintaining good cough and hand hygiene will help to prevent the spread of germs and reduce the risk of transmission for flu.”

Somerset councillor Christine Lawrence, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing added: “For good health during the winter months remember that the flu vaccine is still the best protection we have against an unpredictable virus. It can reduce the risk of serious illness, hospitalisation and even death among those who are most at risk.”

To get your vaccine or find out if you are eligible you can contact your GP, pharmacist or midwife for more information.

Visit http://www.nhs.uk/staywell/ for more details on how to help you and your family stay well this winter.