People heeding flu jab advice

PEOPLE across north Essex appear to be heeding advice to protect themselves and their families from flu this year.

Figures released this week by NHS North Essex show a significant rise in the number of pregnant women having the free vaccination while figures for those in the over-65 group and the under-65 at risk group are similar to the same time last year.

This year, one in three pregnant women have come forward to have their flu jab, compared with one in five at the same time last year. The over-65 group is steady at 68 per cent while the figure for those in the under-65 at risk category is also steady at 42 per cent.

Debbie Saban, senior public health commissioning manager at NHS North Essex, said: “We are pleased with these figures, particularly the improvement in the number of pregnant women having the vaccination. However, we would like to stress that it is still not too late for people entitled to a free flu jab to make an appointment with their GP surgery to have one. I would strongly urge people in the ‘at risk’ groups to take advantage of the invitation.

“Flu is not just a cold – it can be a really serious illness for some people and it doesn’t just affect older people. If you’re pregnant, have lowered immunity or a long term health condition such as severe asthma, a chest or heart complaint, or diabetes then you should also get a free flu jab from your GP and get flu safe. The flu jab is completely safe, and it can’t give you flu.”

The flu vaccine changes every year to fight the latest strains of flu, so even if you had a jab last winter you need another one this year to stay flu safe. The jab doesn’t contain the ‘live’ virus so it cannot give you the flu.

Debbie added: “Flu can increase the risk of developing more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and can make existing conditions much worse. Flu can knock you off your feet and make it hard to look after the kids or go to work.

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“In the most serious cases, seasonal flu might land you in hospital - it can even be a killer.”

“If you’re in any of the ’at risk’ groups, the flu jab is completely free and is a safe way of protecting you and your family in a matter of minutes.”

For more information, speak to your GP or local pharmacist, or visit