People with a learning disability, health and social care workers, unpaid carers, and anyone in close contact with someone on the NHS shielded patient list, are being encouraged to take up their free flu vaccine this autumn and winter. The message is part of Beat Flu, the annual campaign from Public Health Wales.
In a normal winter, thousands of people will die from flu-related illnesses in the UK. This winter we may see both COVID-19 and flu circulating at the same time, so it’s very important to get protected against flu.
Flu can be very serious. Having a flu vaccine each year is the best protection against it. That’s why people who are most at risk of complications if they catch flu should have a vaccine, even if they feel healthy.
For this season’s flu programme, new groups have been added to the eligible list, making it the largest ever national flu programme. The new eligible groups include household contacts on the NHS shielded list and people with a learning disability.
In addition, people aged 50 and over may also be offered a free NHS flu vaccine later in a phased approach later in the season.
The flu vaccine is free (for people from six months of age) if:
- You have a learning disability
- You have a heart problem
- You have a chest complaint or breathing difficulties, including asthma that needs regular steroid inhalers or tablets
- You have kidney disease
- You have lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (such as steroid or cancer treatment) or are in close contact with or live in the same house as someone in this group
- You have liver disease
- You have diabetes
- You have had a stroke (or mini stroke)
- You have a neurological condition, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy or post-polio syndrome
- You have a problem with your spleen, such as sickle cell disease, or have had your spleen removed
- You are an adult with a higher body weight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more)
It is also recommended and free if:
- You are pregnant
- You are aged 65 or over*
- You live in a residential or nursing home
- You are a carer
- You are a community first responder
- You are a member of a recognised voluntary organisation and provide planned first aid
- You are a household contact of someone on the NHS shielded patient list
*(Additional ages may be invited for a flu vaccine when more vaccines are available. Please check beatflu.org for more information)
Health and social care workers
If you have direct contact with patients or clients, a flu vaccine is recommended. (This includes those working in residential care homes, and those who work as a carer, caring for people in their own home who can get their vaccine from a local pharmacy).
A nasal-spray flu vaccine is recommended for all children who are aged two or three on 31 August 2020. They get this from their GP surgery in most areas. All children in primary school are also eligible for this vaccine and they usually have it at school.
Flu vaccine is the best way to protect against catching or spreading flu. Don’t miss out. If you are not sure if you can have a free flu vaccine, ask your GP surgery or local pharmacy for advice.
Information and resources – including easy read information
Public Health Wales have made available lots of resources to help encourage people to take up their free annual flu vaccination, including an easy read guide, produced by Learning Disability Wales:
Find out more about flu and flu vaccines at www.beatflu.org.
This flu season, arrangements may be different due to COVID-19. For the latest information, see beatflu.org.