The NHS in Sussex is urging those at risk of getting very ill from flu not to put off booking and getting their free flu jab during the new national lockdown.
Even though lockdown restrictions are in place until 2 December, flu clinics across Sussex are still operating and the local NHS is offering reassurances that providers of flu vaccination will have extensive safety measures in place.
Flu spreads from person to person, even amongst those not showing any symptoms. Whilst the threat may be invisible, the flu vaccine is the best protection available – it reduces risk of serious illness, hospitalisation and even death of those at most risk.
Robust safety rules will be followed wherever and whenever vaccinations take place, ensuring clinics can be held without putting anyone’s health at risk.
GPs and healthcare workers giving the vaccine will be wearing protective equipment to protect them and those attending clinics from the virus.
This year, appointments for flu clinics are being pre-booked to ensure social distancing by reducing the numbers of people congregating in waiting areas.
In line with government advice, those attending flu clinics are asked to wear a face covering to their appointment, unless they are exempt.
Allison Cannon, Chief Nurse Officer for Sussex NHS commissioners said:
“Please don’t wait to get your flu jab this lockdown – flu jabs save lives and we are urging everyone eligible for a free flu vaccine to book and get theirs as soon as possible.
“We want to reassure everyone that getting the flu vaccine is safe during the lockdown, and there is plenty of time for everyone eligible to book and get their flu jab. Providers of vaccination will take all necessary measures to keep you safe, including wearing protective equipment and staggering clinic appointment times.
“People at high risk from COVID-19 are also those most at risk from flu, so this year it is even more important those who are most at risk of flu have their free vaccination to protect them.”
Those eligible for a free flu jab will have received a letter from their GP on how they can have the flu jab in a safe way during the pandemic, including following social distancing rules and guidance.
GP practices and pharmacies are receiving batches of the vaccine during the flu season, and flu vaccination clinics are scheduled to coincide with these deliveries.
This does mean some may have to wait longer than they would wish to attend flu clinics (leaflet on why people may have to wait longer). The local NHS is reassuring those eligible there is plenty of time for everyone to book and get their flu jab.
People aged between 50 and 64 who are not in a clinical at-risk group may also be offered a free flu vaccination later in the year, providing there is enough vaccine available. This is to ensure that those who are most at risk are vaccinated first. Anyone of any age, including those between 50-64, who is a household member or a carer of a shielded patient, is eligible for the flu vaccination and should contact the GP practice they are registered with or their pharmacy to book an appointment.
For a full list of priority groups and other information about this year’s flu vaccine, visit www.nhs.uk and search for flu vaccine.