New flu vaccine to protect more vulnerable people this winter

Tuesday 9th October, 2018

People vulnerable to winter flu are being urged to make sure they receive the free flu jab.

Anyone aged over 65, those with long term health conditions, carers and pregnant women are all eligible for the free vaccine.

Having the free flu jab could stop vulnerable people ending up in hospital, or even dying, this winter, the local NHS has warned. 

Last year, 130 people ending up in hospital across Coastal West Sussex due to flu and there were also a small number of deaths across Sussex as a result of the viral infection.

Local doctors believe this could have been avoided had those eligible taken up the opportunity to get their free jab.

Allison Cannon, Chief Nurse and Director of Quality for East Surrey and Sussex Clinical Commissioning Groups, said:  “Flu is potentially a very serious illness, and the flu vaccine is the single best way to protect yourself and help ease pressures on your local NHS. This year new and improved flu vaccine comes in time for winter, which is expected to be extremely difficult for the NHS.

“Last year, around 1 in 4 of those eligible in Coastal West Sussex did not claim their free flu jab. This year, residents should be vaccinated as they will be better protected from flu than ever before. We hope this improved vaccine will help ease pressures on local health services by leading to fewer avoidable GP appointments, fewer people needing hospital care and fewer deaths from flu.”

This year’s improved vaccine contains extra ingredients designed to help people’s immune systems develop a stronger defence against flu. The vaccine helps protect people from symptoms of flu, which includes a dry, chesty cough, a headache and a sore throat.

Those who could get seriously ill if they get flu and possibly require avoidable hospital admission can claim a free flu jab, including:

  • adults aged 65 and over
  • adults aged 18 to 64 with a long term health condition
  • children aged 2 to 3 at their GP practice
  • school children in years reception, 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5
  • pregnant women
  • health and social care workers
  • carers

People identified at risk of complications can receive the flu vaccine through their GP, and from their local high street pharmacist. The childhood vaccination programme has been expanded so children from age two up to Year 5 in primary school are offered a flu nasal spray, protecting children and anyone they come into contact with.

The flu jab: the facts

For 2018, there are 3 types of flu vaccine:

  • A live quadrivalent vaccine which protects against 4 strains of flu, given as a nasal spray. This is for children and young people aged 2 to 17 years eligible for the flu vaccine.
  • A quadrivalent injected vaccine. This protects against four strains of flu and is for adults aged 18 and over but below the age of 65, who are at increased risk from flu because of a long-term health condition. This is also for children 6 months and above in an eligible group who cannot receive the live vaccine -
  • An adjuvanted trivalent injected vaccine. This protects against 3 strains and flu and is for people aged 65 and over as it has been shown to be more effective in this age group.