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People with long-term health conditions urged to claim free flu jab ahead of winter pressures

Residents in Brighton and Hove with long-term health conditions are being urged to claim their free flu vaccination now to protect themselves from getting seriously ill this winter.

Flu is a highly infectious disease and can lead to serious complications if you have an underlying health condition such as COPD, bronchitis, emphysema, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease or a chronic neurological disease like multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy.

People with an underlying health condition are far more likely than a healthy adult to be admitted to hospital with complications from flu, so the flu vaccine is offered free of charge on the NHS to anyone with a serious long-term health condition. Those who live with someone who has a weakened immune system may also be advised to have a flu vaccine.

Last year, over half of those with long-term health conditions in Brighton and Hove missed out on their free flu jab leaving them vulnerable to catching the flu, which can be dangerous for those at risk of serious health complications, including pregnant women.

Winter is set to be extremely difficult for the NHS across the country, especially on A&E departments and local GP surgeries as they cope with the annual rise in numbers of people seeking treatment. Local doctors believe pressure on health services could be significantly reduced if those eligible take up the opportunity to get their free jab.

Even those who have had the flu vaccination before, it’s important to get it again because the type of virus in circulation changes every year, so the vaccine changes too.

Allison Cannon, Chief Nurse Officer for East Surrey and Sussex Clinical Commissioning Groups, said:  “Flu on top of long term health conditions increases your chance of serious health complications and a hospital visit, so we’re urging people with underlying health condition to claim their free flu jab now.

“If you’re not sure, your GP can assess you to take into account the risk of flu making any underlying illness you may have worse, as well as your risk of serious illness from flu itself.”

Find out more about the flu vaccine http://www.nhs.uk/flu/

Download the Easyread flu guidance for people with learning difficulties.

Flu vaccination: who should have it this winter and why - further information in different languages from www.nhs.uk