Health chief in Midlands says flu is 'still a killer' as he urges people to get jab

A health chief in the Midlands has called for people to "not be complacent" over the threat of catching the flu this winter amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Regional medical director Nigel Sturrock said it was important residents remember that the flu is "still a killer" as he called on people to get vaccinated.

It comes as NHS bosses look to protect people against the disease by promoting the jabs – and to cut down on people going to hospital due to the virus.

Mr Sturrock, who works for NHS England and NHS Improvement in the Midlands, said: "It’s important that we all remember that flu is still a killer despite the current pandemic.

"The flu vaccine is a lifesaver because flu is a highly contagious disease which for some people can lead to serious and sometimes life-threatening consequences.

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"Flu kills over 11,000 people every year, on average; but this is anything but an average year. The last six months have been really difficult with Covid-19

“Patients with pre-existing health conditions were adversely affected with coronavirus and the same thing can happen with flu.

"So, if you have chest problems, if you have got diabetes and any condition where we are saying you will benefit from being protected from flu, it is in your interest to have that vaccine.

"It will offer you protection against flu and that is so important this coming winter. More important than ever before because of what we have seen in the last six months."

He also called for parents to take their children to be vaccinated to help protect other vulnerable members of the family – especially grandparents.

Myths

"We recognise that many people have legitimate concerns about the jab and a number of myths have been circulating over the years," Mr Sturrock said.

"Many people worry that the vaccine can give you the flu, but this isn’t possible as there is no live influenza virus in the vaccine.

"Studies have proven the vaccine will help prevent flu in patients and reduce the length and strength of flu if caught.

"Flu viruses change every year, so people need to update their vaccination each year to match the new virus."

This year the flu vaccine is being offered on the NHS to:

  • Adults 65 and over

  • People with certain medical conditions (including children in at-risk groups from six months of age)

  • Pregnant women

  • People living with someone who is at high risk from coronavirus (on the NHS shielded patient list)

  • Children aged two and three on August 31, 2020

  • Children in primary school

  • Children in year 7 (secondary school)

  • Frontline health or social care workers

Later in the year, the flu vaccine may also be given to people aged 50 to 64. More information will be available later in the autumn.

However, if you're aged 50 to 64 and in an at-risk group, you should not delay having your flu vaccine.

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