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Protect yourself and others this winter by getting the flu vaccine

Health chiefs are urging people in Norfolk and Waveney to have a flu vaccine to help protect themselves and their families and ease pressure on the NHS this winter.

This winter the risks of both flu and COVID-19 outbreaks are high. This is because fewer people will have built up natural immunity to flu during the COVID-19 pandemic, and protective measures like social distancing and mask wearing have been lifted.

Following the extended flu vaccination programme from last year, more groups are eligible to receive the flu vaccine this year, and NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is urging everyone to get the vaccine.

Alongside the vaccine, practicing good infection control hygiene this winter like washing your hands frequently and wearing a face mask when out in public will be crucial in helping to reduce the risk of transmitting viruses like flu and COVID-19.

If you get flu and COVID-19 at the same time, research shows you're more likely to be seriously ill. That’s why people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, people who are overweight, and those living with diabetes are also encouraged to come forward for the flu vaccine and to take up the offer of a COVID booster when they are contacted to do so.

Flu can cause severe illness and even death among vulnerable groups, as well as complications like bronchitis and pneumonia. Protecting those at high risk of flu, who are also those most vulnerable to hospitalisation as a result of COVID-19, is especially important this year.

GP surgeries have already started vaccinating local people against flu, whilst making sure everyone continues to follow coronavirus social distancing measures to help keep people safe.

The vaccine is available free of charge on the NHS, if you:

  • Are aged 50 years old and over (including those aged 50 by 31 March 2022)
  • Are pregnant
  • Live with someone who is immunocompromised
  • Have certain health conditions
  • Receive a carer’s allowance or are the main carer of an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick

The flu nasal spray vaccine is also available for children:

  • aged 2 and 3 years old on the 31 August 2021
  • from Reception up to Year 11

You don’t need to wait to be invited to have your vaccine. If you are eligible you can make an appointment at your GP surgery or ask any pharmacy that provides the NHS service.

If you aren’t eligible for free vaccination, the flu vaccine is also available at low cost from your local pharmacy.
NHS Norfolk and Waveney CCG is urging the public to have the vaccine for flu as it will reduce the risk of catching and spreading the virus over the winter months.

Dr Anoop Dhesi, a GP and Clinical Chair of NHS Norfolk and Waveney CCG, said: “Across Norfolk and Waveney our GPs, nurses, community pharmacists and others are working hard to deliver our flu vaccination program.

“This winter the combined risks of flu and COVID-19 present increased risk of serious illness this year. As we see an increase in COVID-19 cases, we should not be complacent about the dangers which flu presents to our communities every winter. Getting your flu vaccine and COVID booster, when you are contacted to do so, will provide the best protection for you and your family this winter.

“The flu vaccine is now available for free to a wider group of people than ever before. And we strongly encourage those who aren’t eligible to take up the flu vaccine which is available at local pharmacies for a low cost.

“We particularly want to encourage over 50s, pregnant women, people from BAME backgrounds, those living with diabetes, those who are overweight, and carers to get the vaccine.

“I would urge all people who fit into the key groups to think about being vaccinated this year. It will help protect not only your own health but also protect others, and help protect the NHS this winter.”

More information on who is eligible for the flu vaccine is available here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/who-should-have-flu-vaccine/

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