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NCC News Release 13 Jan 2020 NORTHAMPTONSHIRE RESIDENTS WITH LONG TERM HEALTH PROBLEMS URGED TO GET FLU JAB

Thousands of Northamptonshire residents living with long-term health conditions are being encouraged to have a free flu jab, because of the life threatening risk caused by the flu virus.

The flu jab is free to people with long term health conditions, including asthma, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchitis, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease or weakened immune system due to HIV or chemotherapy and damaged/no spleen. Carers who receive carer’s allowance can also get a free flu jab – speak to your GP.

Councillor Ian Morris, Cabinet Member for Public Health Northamptonshire, said:

“Around 87,000 people in Northamptonshire qualify for a free flu vaccination every year because their health is at risk, but not everyone takes up this offer of protection against a serious viral threat. Currently, only around 35,000 have received their free vaccination. I would urge everyone who is vulnerable to infection who has not yet had a vaccination to have the flu vaccine – it’s the best way to protect your health.”

Dr Azhar Ali, GP and Respiratory Disease Clinical Lead for NHS Northamptonshire, said: 

“The flu jab is essential for people with a long term health condition. This group of people are more at risk of catching flu and of developing serious complications which may lead to a prolonged spell off work, hospital admission or even death.”

“Vulnerable people with long term health conditions are more likely to develop complications from flu, such as:

• Flu can worsen a lung condition and aggravate breathing problems in people with COPD, asthma and other chronic lung diseases which can even lead to respiratory failure 
• Flu can make liver disease worse and increases the risk of rejecting of liver transplants
• People with neurological disease may find it more difficult to cough and clear fluid from their airways.  Flu can give them very high temperature and make symptoms worse because neurological conditions can make it difficult to regulate body temperature
• A third of people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) will have relapse within 6 weeks of getting the flu
• Flu puts added stress on your body, which can affect your blood pressure, heart rate and overall heart function. That can raise your chances of having a heart attack or stroke.”

Anyone in doubt about whether they qualify for a free vaccination should contact their GP. Don’t miss the opportunity to protect your health, speak to your GP practice or visit a local pharmacy for a vaccination.