Over 50s urged to have free flu vaccine this winter
Published: 2 December 2021
Over-50s in Devon are being urged to take up their FREE NHS flu vaccine as experts warn of a significant flu outbreak this winter.
Flu is not just a heavy cold. It is a highly infectious disease, causing fever, chills, headache, aches and pains in the joints and muscles, and extreme tiredness. It can’t be treated by antibiotics because it is a virus.
Healthy individuals usually recover within two to seven days but, for some, it can increase the risk of developing more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia, or can make existing conditions worse. The virus can lead to hospitalisation, permanent disability or even death.
The Covid-19 jab does not protect against flu so it is vital to have both the flu and Covid-19 vaccinations to reduce your chances of becoming unwell and needing hospital treatment. Getting vaccinated helps you and the NHS, which is already facing extreme pressures in the run up to the very busy winter season.
Dr Alex Degan, NHS Devon’s Primary Care Medical Director said: “Many of the measures we take to prevent the spread of Covid-19 also help to prevent people catching flu, including staying at home if you feel unwell, washing your hands regularly and covering your mouth and nose if you cough or sneeze.
“The best way to avoid catching and spreading flu is by having the vaccination before the flu season starts.”
Each winter, on average, 11,000 people in England die from flu and government research suggests that adults in England are severely underestimating the combined threat of COVID-19 and flu this winter.
The UK Health Security Agency has warned that there could be a significant flu surge this winter coinciding with continuing or rising COVID-19 cases. This is due to colder weather, increased social contact indoors and expected lower natural immunity to flu due to lower levels in circulation last winter.
Modelling by the Academy of Medical Sciences suggests this winter hospital admissions and deaths from flu could be double that of a ‘normal’ year and could coincide with an increase of COVID-19 infections.