This comes as our local MPs, Ben Everitt and Iain Stewart, are calling on eligible residents to take part in the Government's largest ever flu vaccination programme this winter.
Many people living in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes will soon be hearing from their GP practice inviting them to have a free flu jab.
The drive to vaccines comes as new research from Public Health England suggests that people who tested positive for both flu and Covid-19 were more than twice as likely to die, compared to those with Covid-19 alone. The research also found that those with co-infection of the two viruses were more at risk of severe illness.
The health system is working to provide the free flu vaccine to 30 million people, the highest number on record, including:
• All primary school children, and, for the first time, Year 7 children.
• Two- and three-olds.
• The most vulnerable people, including adults aged 65 and over, those with long-term health conditions and pregnant women.
• Household contact of people on the NHS Shielded Patient List and all health and 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.
Dr Sanhita Chakrabarti is the Clinical Lead and Lead for the Flu Programme for Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Groups. She says: “Coronavirus has shown us how some people are more vulnerable to becoming gravely ill if they contract the virus. The flu is also a highly contagious virus that can have serious health implications.
“But while we wait for a vaccine for COVID-19, those in a high risk group can protect themselves from the worst effects of the flu by simply taking up their GP’s offer of a free flu vaccination.”
And now our MPs are urging eligible people to have them. Commenting, Iain Stewart MP said: “As we approach the winter, it is imperative that everyone who needs a flu vaccination takes up the offer to have one.
“I urge everyone in Milton Keynes who is eligible to get vaccinated, which could make an important difference if they should also catch coronavirus in the months ahead.”
Ben Everitt MP added: “Controlling the spread of coronavirus and protecting the NHS is on all of us – we must all wash out hands, cover our faces and make space – as well as taking sensible steps like getting a flu jab.”
To maintain social distancing, flu clinics will be operating differently this year to ensure patients and staff are kept safe. GP practices will notify patients how they will be delivering flu clinics before their appointment, clinics will continue taking into account any changes in line with local and national guidance.
For more information on the importance of the flu vaccine and who is eligible for a free flu vaccination, which is also provided in a number of languages please visit https://www.blmkccg.nhs.uk/your-health/seasonal-flu/.