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Seasonal flu vaccine available now

on .

With the annual free flu vaccine now available on the NHS, eligible Solihull residents are encouraged to contact their local GP.

Find out more about the flu vaccine by listening to friendly advice from our Chief Nurse, Sue Nicholls, or use the ‘Flu – know the facts’ information on Pinterest. To book a flu vaccine, talk to your GP.

Available every year from autumn, the vaccination protects adults and children most at risk from the virus. Children can now have a nasal spray instead of a jab.

Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is urging everyone at risk to get protected at their local surgery between October and November, before the onset of winter when flu outbreaks are more likely.

Dr Mike Baker, CCG Governing Body member and a GP at Meadowside Family Health Centre, said: “Getting your flu vaccine is free, quick and easy and is vital if you are more susceptible to flu and the complications that can develop as a result of it. We’re encouraging people at risk to visit their local GP as soon as possible.

“It’s important to remember that for most of us, although unpleasant, flu clears up on its own within a week by taking plenty of rest, lots of fluids and over-the-counter medication for aches, pains and temperatures.”

Those most at risk from the effects of flu are:

-          people over 65-years-old

-          pregnant women

-          anyone with a long-term or underlying health condition – particularly those with breathing or heart-related issues

-          people of all ages with weakened immune systems

-          people in long-stay residential care or care homes

-          carers looking after those who may be at risk if they fall ill

-          health or social care workers who have direct contact with patients.

Those who fall into, or who have contact with, the above groups are considered more at risk of developing potentially serious complications, such as bronchitis or pneumonia – a lung infection.

The vaccine is given as an annual injection to adults over the age of 18 and as a nasal spray to children from ages four to 17. It is given to healthy children from two to four as a matter of course and to older children who are considered at risk, for example those with long term conditions. Currently, there is also a pilot running in a number of areas to vaccinate all primary school children and those in years seven and eight (between the ages of 11 and 13).  

“No one should worry about the vaccine, as serious side effects are very rare. You may have a slight temperature and aching muscles for a few days after, or a sore arm where the injection was given, but this is very minimal and nothing compared to the effects of flu,” added Dr Baker.

The only people who should avoid having a flu vaccine are those who have had a serious allergic reaction in the past. Anyone with an egg allergy should also check with their GP or health professional about whether the vaccine is safe, as some do contain egg.