People with long-term health conditions are being urged by MK CCG to protect themselves with a free flu vaccination this winter.
For people with underlying health conditions, flu can lead to more serious complications like pneumonia or bronchitis, and in some cases can even be fatal.
According to research by the King’s Fund, around 15 million people - over a quarter of the UK population, have a long-term health condition yet statistics show little more than half of these eligible patients have the free flu jab each year.
In Milton Keynes, 67% of diabetes patients were vaccinated against flu between September 2015 and January 2016, 51% with chronic heart disease and only 46% with chronic liver disease.* This leaves many people who are considered to be ‘at-risk’ from flu open to contracting the virus.
Dr Nessan Carson, GP Board Member at NHS Milton Keynes CCG, said: “Even those who manage their conditions well can find they are very vulnerable to the flu which can lead to increased risk of complications, admission to hospital and even death. I strongly urge people to contact their GP practices to book an appointment, or drop into their local pharmacy for information on the free flu vaccine.
“If you are a carer for someone with a long-term condition, encourage them to take up the offer of a free flu jab to help them stay healthy over winter. The flu vaccination is the best protection against this unpredictable virus that can cause severe illness and deaths amongst vulnerable groups.”
Long-term conditions include the following types of illnesses:
• Chronic (long term) respiratory disease such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or bronchitis
• Chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
• Chronic kidney disease
• Chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
• Chronic neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or motor neurone disease
• People with problems with their spleen – for example, sickle cell disease, or have had their spleen removed
• People with a weakened immune system due to conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or as a result of medication such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy