DOCTOR CALLING: By Dr Kevin Hill
NHS England Lincolnshire is reminding people in at-risk groups to be on the lookout for their flu jab letter, which should be landing on their doormats soon.
The letters, which are sent by GPs, are for adults aged over 65; those with long-term health conditions such as severe asthma or heart disease; carers; pregnant women; children aged two to eight and other at-risk groups.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people see their GP and tens of thousands are hospitalised because of flu.
In the East Midlands, 15 people died in 2015 due to influenza and 260 in England. These figures are likely to be much higher because many more people die from complications caused by flu, such as pneumonia.
Symptoms of flu can be very unpleasant and last for several weeks. Flu can lead to more serious complications like pneumonia or bronchitis for those with underlying health conditions, and in some cases it can be fatal.
Flu is a highly contagious illness, which spreads rapidly through the population. It can cause serious complications for at-risk groups, including expectant mothers, the elderly and people with long-term health conditions.
If you are eligible for the free flu vaccination, make sure you act on your letter from your GP and get the jab – don’t ignore it or leave it till later.
Although it’s not possible to know which strains of flu will circulate each winter, the flu vaccination is still the best protection against an unpredictable virus, which can cause severe illness and deaths amongst vulnerable groups.
In some instances the GP practice may text you instead of a letter.
For more information visit www.nhs.uk/staywell