Flu kills thousands every year - get your vaccine

Release Date: 19 November 2020

The flu kills an average of 11,000 people in England each year and hospitalises tens of thousands more. People at high risk from flu are also at higher risk from COVID-19, and co-infection could cause serious problems. By getting a free flu vaccination you will be protecting yourself, your loved ones and the NHS from a double threat this winter.

The best time to have a flu vaccine is in the autumn, from the beginning of October to the end of November. Whilst the vaccine is available throughout winter season, it is important to get vaccinated before the flu virus starts circulating, which is usually around December.

The flu is an unpredictable virus that can result in fever, coughing, pains, and more severe complications, even death. Whilst unpleasant for everyone, its effects are particularly dangerous for certain people. It is essential that the following groups receive their free flu vaccination as soon as possible:

  • Adults aged 65 and over
  • Those who have an underlying health condition (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease or a chronic neurological disease)
  • Pregnant women
  • Children aged 2 to 3 years old
  • All primary school children and those in year 7
  • Household contacts of those on the NHS shielded patient list for COVID-19
  • Those who are in receipt of a carer's allowance, or who are the main carer of an older or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill
  • Frontline health and social care workers

If you are aged 50 to 64 and have a health condition that means you are more at risk from flu, you should get your flu vaccine as soon as possible. Other 50- to 64-year-olds will be contacted about a flu vaccine later.

To book your flu vaccine, contact your pharmacist or GP. To arrange a flu vaccine for your child at school, make sure to sign and return the consent form. Please note that while there is enough flu vaccine for everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated this season, due to an increase in early demand for the flu vaccine, some people may be asked to wait. Please don’t be discouraged and keep checking in with your GP/local pharmacist.

For more information:

Cllr Piers Allen, Chair of the Adult Social Services, Health and Housing Committee, and the Richmond Health and Wellbeing Board, said:

"It is incredibly important that all those who are eligible for a free flu vaccination and fall into the priority categories above get one before winter settles in. The flu vaccine is available to 30 million people, which is more people than ever before, meaning you may be offered the free flu vaccine for the first time this year.

"It is dangerous to dismiss the flu as not being a serious illness. It can lead to hospitalisation, permanent disability or even death. Flu is easily spread in children and adults and the vaccine is the best way to protect yourself, especially if you are in a group listed above.

"With COVID-19 still prevalent, we should all take steps to protect ourselves and others from serious, preventable viruses such as the flu. Changes have been made to make sure it’s safe for you to have the flu vaccine at GP surgeries and pharmacies. Changes include social distancing, hand washing and wearing protective equipment.

"Please play your part and get the flu vaccine – it could save your life, or one of your loved one's lives".

Notes for editors

If you are a journalist and would like further information about this press release, contact Fenna Maynard on 020 8487 5182.

Reference: P457/20

Updated: 24 November 2020