According to Public Health England, it is estimated that several million people get flu each winter, leading to more than 2,000 NHS intensive care admissions across the UK last year.
This year the biggest ever flu vaccination programme in England is taking place which will help protect millions of people most at risk.
Essex County Council is today urging those in priorities groups to book their free flu vaccination as part of the Stay well this winter campaign that was launched last week.
The Stay well this winter campaign aims to keep the most vulnerable well and warm this winter.
Cllr Graham Butland, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Health, said: “It is crucial for those in priority groups to get their flu vaccination as soon as possible, to not only protect themselves, but those around them too.
"The flu vaccination is free for priority groups because of the greater risk to their health. If you are in one of these groups please look to get yours booked in right away."
Mike Gogarty, Director of Public Health at Essex County Council, said: “Flu symptoms can hit quite suddenly and severely and usually include fever, chills, headaches and aching muscles. Often you also get a cough and sore throat.
"Anyone can get flu, but it can be more serious for priority groups and vaccination is the best protection for those most at risk.
“Many people don’t realise they are in a priority group, so please think about whether you qualify and if you are eligible for the free vaccination and have not had it, then contact your GP, pharmacist or midwife to arrange your vaccination.”
Those in priority groups include:
- Those over 65
- Pregnant women
- Residents of long-stay care homes and carers
- Children aged between 2 and 7 (School years 1, 2 and now including 3)
- Those with long term health conditions
Those with long term health conditions are eligible for vaccination because if they get flu, it is more likely to develop into a serious illness, which could result in admission to hospital.
These conditions include chronic respiratory disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchitis or emphysema; heart, kidney or liver disease; chronic neurological diseases, like multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy; and diabetes.
On average someone with a long-term condition is 11 times more likely to die if they get flu than those not in at risk groups. The risk of death varies by condition, with patients with chronic liver disease 48 times more likely to die on average than those without an underlying health condition. There are around 6.8 million people with a long-term condition in England under 65 years of age.
Promoting the flu vaccination to those most at risk is a key part of this year’s Stay well this winter campaign which also looks to inform Essex residents on how to get winter ready, keep well during the cold months and stay warm when the cold weather hits.
Follow #SWTWessex on Twitter for campaign updates.