Age UK Bolton call on older people to get their flu jab
Published on 18 November 2020 11:27 AM
In 2019-20, there were nearly 500,000 episodes of care in hospitals for a diagnosis of influenza and pneumonia among people aged 65 and over in England. This is nearly 37,000 more compared with the previous year.
Last winter in Bolton 74.3% of people aged 65 and over had the flu vaccination, just falling short of the WHO recommended target of 75%. This Autumn it is particularly important that older people get their free flu jab as early evidence from Public Health England suggests that having coronavirus and flu at the same time is more dangerous than just having coronavirus and may double the chances of dying.
People aged 65 and over can get their free flu vaccine from a pharmacy or their GP, as can people who care for an older person or someone with a disability. People living with someone advised to shield in Spring, and frontline care workers can also get the free vaccine. Later this year the government plans to make people aged 50 and over eligible for a free flu jab too.
Each year flu and pneumonia kill around 26,000 people in the England. Although not as deadly as Covid-19, flu and pneumonia show a similar pattern of increasing risk as we get older, with more than nine out of ten of flu and pneumonia deaths in England being among people aged 65+ and around three quarters being among people aged 80+ .
Suzanne Hilton, Chief Executive for Age UK Bolton, says
"Although Covid might feel like the most pressing problem this winter, it’s incredibly important we don’t forget about the dangers of flu. Flu can be a serious health hazard for older people, even if you are otherwise fit and well, and it’s the last thing anyone needs this of all years. We also now know that getting both covid and flu simultaneously poses an even greater risk to someone’s health. It’s vital everyone eligible gets their free flu jab to protect themselves and the people around them.”
Age UK’s myth buster can dispel some of the misunderstandings surrounding the flu vaccination:
Myth Buster – 7 things you might not have realised about the Flu
- The flu is worse than having a heavy cold
Flu kills - flu is much worse than a heavy cold. While some people will get the flu and recover others will get complications caused by flu and become seriously ill and have to go to hospital.
- The flu vaccine does not gives you flu
It is impossible to get the flu from the adult vaccination as it doesn’t contain the live virus. It takes two weeks from getting the vaccine to become effective so it is important to get it as soon as possible.
- The flu vaccination side effects are likely to be mild
Risk of a serious side effect from having the flu vaccine is very low. For the most part, the side effects are mild, or none at all. Most common is experiencing soreness around the site of the injection and aching muscles.
- The flu vaccine will protect you throughout the flu season
A flu vaccination is not a life-long protection against flu. Each year the flu virus changes and so the component of the vaccination is changed, meaning the vaccine differs slightly from year to year. The vaccine usually provides protection for the duration of the flu season that year.
- There are more places to get the vaccine now than ever before
GP surgeries, local pharmacies and some community pharmacies such as ones in supermarkets provide the adult flu vaccination. You can also get a flu vaccination privately which costs around £20.
- You can get the flu vaccine if you aren’t feeling your best.
If you have a minor illness like a cold, you are ok to book in your flu vaccine, but it is recommended that you wait until significant illness or fever have passed before getting a flu vaccine. Most adults can have the injected flu vaccine, but some people may have been advised by a healthcare professional to avoid it if there’s been a serious allergic reaction to a flu vaccine in the past. If you aren’t sure, speak to your GP.
- The flu vaccine for older people does not contain gelatine.
Only the nasal vaccine has gelatine in. The nasal spray Fluenz Tetra which is used to immunise children contains pork gelatine. Gelatine is used in the children's nasal flu vaccine because it is an effective stabiliser which helps to preserve the drug and make sure it remains safe and effective while it's stored and transported. There are alternatives to the gelatine nasal spray, but they are less effective.