Clwyd West AM Darren Millar is urging people in Conwy and Denbighshire who are eligible for the free flu vaccination to make sure they get protected.
Annual flu vaccination is the best protection against catching or spreading flu, a potentially life-threatening infection. Every year over two thirds of those aged 65 and over and almost half of people in at-risk groups in Wales get their flu jab.
The free vaccine is being made more widely available this year to now include all primary school children and pre-schoolers aged two and three. For the first time the vaccine is also being offered to staff with regular client contact working in residential care and nursing homes this winter.
Over 820,000 flu vaccines were given by NHS Wales last year.
Darren is urging people to take advantage of the free vaccine on offer.
He said: “The Beat Flu campaign is underway throughout Wales to offer flu vaccines to individuals most at risk of serious complications from influenza, and my message to them is to make sure it’s at the top of your to-do list this autumn.
“While most NHS flu vaccines are given in GP surgeries, it is also available for adults in many community pharmacies across Wales.”
Developments for this year include:
- All primary school children are now eligible for a free nasal spray flu vaccine, as well as children aged two and three years (age on 31 August 2018).
- Staff in adult care homes who have regular contact with residents can have a free NHS flu vaccine at many community pharmacies. This will help protect care home residents who are more vulnerable to complications from flu and reduce the spread of flu.
- To improve effectiveness different flu vaccines recommended for different age groups are being introduced this year. Delivery of supplies of certain flu vaccines to GP practices and community pharmacies will be staggered between September and November. Some people may be asked to wait until the most effective vaccine for them is available. It’s planned that everyone will be offered vaccination before mid-December when flu typically starts to circulate.
- Pregnant women, people with long-term health conditions and everyone aged 65 and over are also eligible for a free NHS flu vaccination, along with unpaid carers and first aid volunteers. All health and social care staff with direct patient or client contact are also recommended to have the vaccine to protect themselves and those they care for. They can ask their occupational health department or employer about where and when to get their vaccine.
Dr Richard Roberts, Head of the Vaccine Preventable Disease Programme at Public Health Wales, said: “Each year new flu viruses circulate, causing many people to be ill and some to face life-threatening complications. And flu vaccines are changed each year to try to match the flu viruses circulating in order to give the best protection.
“Last winter there were 2,680 patients with confirmed flu in hospitals – 192 in intensive care units. As well as the impact on these individuals, this places an additional pressure on the health service at a busy time of year.
“People with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems are over ten times more likely to suffer severe outcomes from influenza and we want to see even more people protected this year.”