Getting to the point of the flu jab - hospital says stay well this winter
As temperatures dip and the risk of winter illness rises, The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust (PAHT) in Harlow is stepping up its flu campaign and urging Harlow residents to get ready for winter. Every year, the trust vaccinates staff as the best means of preventing the spread of flu within its hospitals. But this year it is also offering the vaccine to eligible patients coming for appointments at its hospitals - for the first time, people aged under 65 attending outpatient departments, who are in the risk groups, can get their free jab on the spot.
The trust's action to immunise its staff has already got off to a great start. Their army of flu fighter champions has done a fantastic job - with more than 1,650 staff having had the jab since the beginning of the campaign.
Immunisation is one of the most effective interventions to prevent the risk of serious illness from flu and the NHS is committed to raising the uptake of the flu vaccination.
In healthy people, flu will usually clear up on its own within a week. However, flu can be more severe in certain people, such as:
- anyone aged 65 and over
- pregnant women
- children and adults with an underlying health condition (particularly long-term heart or respiratory disease)
- children and adults with weakened immune systems
People in these categories are already entitled to free vaccination at their local GP.
Toni Wright, lead nurse in outpatients services, said: "It is vital for front-line health staff to be protected from flu, but protection is important for everyone, especially people in vulnerable groups.
"If you're immunised, you're also protecting your family and those around you.
"At risk patients who are working have to go to their GP for vaccination, however if they are already taking time to attend outpatients at the hospital, they can have the injection while they are waiting and be immediately protected against flu.
So if you are in the at-risk group coming for an appointment, let the reception staff know, and you can have the jab while you're waiting or after your appointment."
Sharon McNally, Director of Nursing and Midwifery said: "The flu vaccine reduces the risk of catching flu, as well as spreading it to others. It's more effective to get the vaccine before the start of the flu season, December to March. At PAHT we are now able to offer on-the-spot immunisation in our hospitals for at risk groups, which will provide wider protection to our population, so I would encourage anyone who is in the eligible category to take up the opportunity at your next outpatient visit."
Clinical staff are also keen to dispel myths surrounding the vaccine - for instance, the idea that the flu jab gives you flu. The fact is that the flu jab cannot give you flu as it does not contain any live viruses. Find more facts and myth-busters on the NHS website.
Toni added: "There are myths surrounding the vaccination, but they are completely untrue. The fact is that vaccination can prevent hundreds of deaths."
Since the trust's campaign for this winter started, staff have been lining up to get vaccinated, with executive members leading the way. Chief Executive, Lance McCarthy, was among the first to get the jab.
For more information about flu immunisation, visit the NHS Choices website.