Swindon Borough Council is encouraging eligible residents to book their free flu vaccination.

This year, residents are being told that it is more important than ever to protect themselves, their family and their community against the flu.

Every winter the flu circulates in the UK and puts huge pressure on NHS services, as well as the wider health and social care system that supports people in at-risk groups.

Flu can affect anyone. For most healthy people, flu is unpleasant but tends to resolve on its own. However, some groups are more vulnerable to the effects of the illness, these include:

  • Older people
  • The very young
  • Pregnant women
  • Those with an underlying condition, such as chronic respiratory or cardiac disease
  • Those who are immunosuppressed
  • People with a learning disability

In an average year, 11,000 people die from the flu in England and many more are hospitalised.

Vaccination is the best way to protect against the flu and is one of the most effective interventions available to reduce the pressure on NHS and social care sectors this winter, particularly at a time when the health service is preparing for the co-circulation of flu and COVID-19.

Public Health England (PHE) has released new data which suggests that the risk of death more than doubled for people who tested positive for both flu and COVID-19, compared to those with COVID-19 alone. Findings also indicate that those most at risk from flu are also most vulnerable to COVID-19.

In order to protect as many people as possible, the Government has extended the eligibility for this year’s flu vaccination programme. This year the vaccination will be offered to 30 million people, the highest number on record.

Full eligibility criteria can be found on the NHS website, through a GP or via local pharmacies. Further information on how to get the vaccination will also be available through these sources.

Once the flu vaccination programme for the most vulnerable groups is underway, people aged 50-64 will be invited to get their free vaccination.

A national supply of vaccines has been secured to ensure demand does not outstrip supply. PHE has confirmed there are enough doses for 30 million people to get vaccinated in England, however, delivery of the vaccine is expected to be staggered over the coming months.

If residents are unable to book a vaccination appointment, they are being encouraged to keep checking back as more appointments will become available in due course.

Councillor Brian Ford, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, said: “It’s not ‘just’ the flu. For some people flu can be extremely severe and even life threatening. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is to never underestimate our invisible enemies.

“My flu vaccination is booked in. I’m getting my vaccination in order to protect myself, my family, my community and our health services this winter. I would like to strongly encourage everybody who is eligible to get the free flu vaccination, to join me and get vaccinated too.”