The national flu vaccination campaign run by NHS England is targeting pregnant women, parents of children aged 2 and 3 years old and adults with underlying conditions.
These groups are at particular risk from flu and vaccination is the best protection we have against an unpredictable virus. That’s why the flu vaccine is free – because eligible groups really need it.
Flu facts and figures
Last winter 9,996 people were hospitalised because of flu in a network of 25 trusts in England.
3,175 people were admitted to Intensive Care Unit/a High Dependency Unit as a result of flu in 2017/18 across the UK during the flu season, of whom 320 died.
There were an estimated 15,969 deaths from flu in 2017/18. This is a 9% decrease in flu related deaths between 2016/17 and 2017/18.
Flu is a highly infectious disease and can lead to serious complications if you have an underlying health condition such as COPD, bronchitis, emphysema, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease or a chronic neurological disease like multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy. Flu on top of health conditions like these increases your chance of serious health complications and a hospital visit.
Flu can be nasty for little children. Children also tend to be super-spreaders of flu so if they get it, they are likely to infect more vulnerable older family members. Children who get flu have the same symptoms as adults – including fever, chills, aching muscles, headache, stuffy nose, dry cough and sore throat. Some children develop a very high fever or complications of flu, such as bronchitis or pneumonia and may need hospital treatment. The flu vaccine will help protect your child from flu and also reduce the chance of it spreading on to others. For most children, the flu vaccine is not usually an injection, just a quick and easy nasal spray. Children aged 2 and 3 receive the vaccine through their GP and children reception and school years 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 receive it in school. If you have a child who is of the eligible age, make sure you sign the consent form allowing them to have the flu vaccine at school.
Pregnancy naturally weakens the body’s immune system and as a result flu can cause serious complications for you and your baby. One of the most common complications of flu is bronchitis, a chest infection that can become serious and develop into pneumonia. If you have flu while you’re pregnant, it could mean your baby is born prematurely or has a low birthweight, and may even lead to stillbirth or death. You may be less able to fight off infections, increasing the risk of becoming ill from flu. The flu jab is the safest way to help protect you and your baby against flu, no matter how many months pregnant you are or however fit and healthy you may feel.
If you are eligible for the flu vaccine, get it now. Contact your general practice, pharmacist or midwife to get it.
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- Go to nhs.uk/fluvaccine for more information.
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