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Source: City of Southampton

NHS Southampton City Clinical Commissioning Group and Southampton City Council are asking people to ensure they get their flu jab this year in what will be the biggest vaccination campaign ever seen.

Each year the flu vaccination is available to help protect adults and children at risk from flu and its complications, but this year it’s going to bigger than ever before as more people are eligible for the free vaccination.

This year we’re sharing the message that what may appear to be ‘just flu’ can lead to long-term health complications.

Those who are in certain at-risk categories — such as those over 65 and under 65s with a long term condition, as well as pregnant women — are more likely to be at risk of developing complications if they catch flu.

By getting the vaccine this year, not only will you be protecting yourselves but your loved ones too this winter.

Dr Mark Kelsey, Clinical Chair at NHS Southampton City CCG and a local GP, said: “This year will be the biggest flu vaccination campaign that we have embarked on yet.

“We will be vaccinating more people than ever as we have expanded the groups of people eligible for the free flu jab.

“Because we know we still have coronavirus (COVID-19) in our community, some practices and pharmacies might be carrying out their vaccination clinics differently this year.

“This could involve booked appointments, vaccinations in car parks or community buildings and separate clinic groups for our ‘at risk’ patients. I would like to thank all of our NHS staff for their hard work to make this happen.

“You may also see staff wearing face masks and lots more handwashing and use of hand sanitiser. Please feel rest assured these measures are in place to help keep you and our staff as safe and secure as possible.

“We know some people will be feeling anxious, worried or scared about having their vaccination, however it is far better to be protected from flu, than go without.”

This year, the NHS is aiming to vaccinate around 4.5 million people in the South East – up from 2.6 million last winter.

For the first time, children in school Year 7, and household contacts and carers of those on the NHS Shielded Patient List, are all eligible for the free vaccination. These groups are in addition to people aged over 65, those under 65 with long-term health conditions, pregnant women, children aged two and three and children in primary school.

Cllr Lorna Fielker (pictured receiving her flu jab from pharmacist Ricky Sharma), Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Care, Southampton City Council, said: “This year with both the flu virus and COVID-19 circulating, getting a flu jab is more important than ever to reduce your chance of catching it.

“There is an expanded list of priority groups this year which includes offering the vaccine to children aged from two to 11. We are working closely with our schools to support this drive and ask all parents to look out for the invitation. I also urge pregnant women and residents who are 65 years old and older to have a flu jab. “We want to you to look after yourself and protect the NHS by having the flu jab.”

Flu is a highly infectious disease that is spread from person to person and infects the respiratory system, where it can lead to pneumonia and other complications.

The flu viruses are constantly changing and this is one of the main reasons why people should be vaccinated annually.

The symptoms, that come on very quickly, include fever, chills, headaches, aches and pains in the joints and muscles, and extreme tiredness.

Please visit your practice website or speak to your pharmacy about booking a test.

If you have a high temperature, new, continuous cough or a loss of taste and smell, then please do not visit your GP practice or pharmacy.

Please self-isolate and contact 119 or visit the NHS to book in for a coronavirus test.

A list of local testing sites operated by the Department for Health and Social Care is available here.

If you test positive for coronavirus then please do not attend a flu clinic – contact them to rearrange your appointment.

Visit the NHS for more information on the flu vaccine.

MIL OSI United Kingdom