What you need to know about whether you can get the flu jab

Flu jab

East Kent’s NHS is urging people to be prepared for winter, as part of a plan to tackle high demand for emergency healthcare.

One way that many people can help the local NHS is by getting a flu jab.

East Kent Hospitals’ Chief Nurse, Sally Smith said:  “Flu is something that many people underestimate or even trivialise. But it’s a particularly unpleasant disease that can have serious health consequences.

“Those in vulnerable groups, such as those over the age of 65, should be vaccinated as soon as possible. By getting a vaccination you’re not only helping yourself – you’re helping the NHS too by avoiding the need for emergency care.”

The flu vaccination is available to help protect adults and children at risk of flu and its complications.

Flu can be severe in certain people, such as:

  • Anyone aged 65 and over
  • Pregnant women
  • Children and adults with an underlying health condition (such as long-term heart or respiratory disease)
  • Children and adults with weakened immune systems.

Sally Smith added: “Apart from getting vaccinated, everyone can help the NHS by planning ahead if they’re vulnerable to illness by making sure they don’t run out of vital medication should bad weather hit. They should also get advice from their GP or pharmacist if they suspect problems.”

The NHS in east Kent announced its 12-month plan to improve emergency care services in September.

The plan includes:

  • Identifying patients who are frail or at risk of developing pneumonia earlier, so they are less likely to need hospital care
  • Expanding the service that allows many patients to receive hospital treatment without the need for an overnight stay
  • 24/7 mental health teams working in hospital emergency departments to ensure patients have fast access to appropriate services
  • Ensuring people don’t stay in hospital longer than they need, by further investing in therapies staff, who ensure patients have the support they need to be able to leave hospital safely, for example, with specialist equipment at home
  • Expanding services in the community so that rapid response teams are seeing patients within two hours of a referral from the emergency department.

Sally Smith said: “The whole local NHS is working together to ensure we can care for patients in the right place at the right time for them this winter, whether that’s in a hospital bed, in a community setting or at home. Achieving the standards we want for patients is our absolute priority.”

The injected flu vaccine is offered free on the NHS annually to:

  • Adults over the age of 18 at risk of flu (including everyone aged 65 and over)
  • Pregnant women
  • Children aged six months to two years at risk of flu.

To help keep A&E for real emergencies, pharmacies offer help and advice and many are open until late. A wide range of injuries can be treated at one of the many minor injury services in east Kent. Full details can be found here: www.ekhuft.nhs.uk/patients-and-visitors/services/minor-injuries/

People can also look up their symptoms and find the right health service nearest to them at Health Help Now  www.kent.healthhelpnow.nhs.uk, or download the app. The WaitLess app combines current waiting times at all units with up-to-the-minute travel information to help people decide where to head to for faster treatment for minor injuries.

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