Make flu jab a New Year resolution

The Transforming Care Lead for NHS England in the South sends a message to people with learning disabilities saying it’s still not too late to get vaccinated:

Put simply, a New Year’s resolution is a promise that you make to yourself to start doing something good or stop doing something bad. Have you made yours yet? Or are you fed up of making the same ones?

Whether it is conquering Dry January, eating more healthily, or signing up with the gym to get fitter in 2017 – we have all been there – so why not try something a little different this year? Why not get vaccinated against the flu.

It is quick, easy and achievable. It is even free for certain ‘at risk’ groups, including children and adults with learning disabilities as part of Public Health England’s annual flu programme.

Why? Because people who have a learning disability can be more susceptible to the effects of flu and are therefore at increased risk of developing complications such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

In the short video below Camilla, who has a learning disability, explains the importance of getting the flu jab and why she got it to help prevent getting ill this winter. She also encourages people to get the quick and easy injection, saying: “Do not think about the needle, think about something else that makes you happy. It is just one prick, one prick and that is it”.

If you have, or care for someone, with a learning disability, you are entitled to a free flu vaccine and it really is worth getting because anyone can catch flu. You can also put others at risk by spreading the virus, even though you may not have symptoms yourself.

Nigel Acheson, Medical Director at NHS England South explains: “Flu is a very unpleasant illness for anyone, but for those with a learning disability you can be more vulnerable and it can also lead to more serious complications. I would urge anyone in this group to makes sure they have the vaccination as soon as possible.

“Carers of anyone with a learning disability should also get the free vaccine from their GP, the sooner the better to get the greatest possible protection for yourself and your loved ones.”

The vaccine offers the best level of protection from the flu virus, and it’s important to have the vaccine every year, especially as the flu virus strain changes every year.

Increasing uptake of the flu vaccine in this ‘at risk’ group is a step in the right direction towards improving the quality of and access to health care for people with learning disabilities – our priority at NHS England on the Transforming Care Programme (South).

Find out more and share the easy read leaflet about flu and why the vaccine is important.

Don’t delay; contact your doctor or pharmacist to get the jab today.

Jill Crook

Jill Crook is the Transforming Care Lead for NHS England South region.

Jill has been a Director of Nursing for 15 years in a variety of strategic roles including the Chief Nursing Officers directorate at the Department of Health, Avon Gloucestershire & Wiltshire Strategic Health Authority, Gloucestershire & Swindon Primary Care Trusts and the Bath, Gloucestershire, Swindon & Wiltshire Area Team of NHS England. Jill’s clinical background is within both mental health and general nursing with a large focus on community settings.

From February 2015 Jill has been working on a part time basis as the Project Lead for Transforming Care Learning Disabilities and Autism supporting the Chief Nurse within NHS England South Region.

Jill enjoys an effective work life balance and in her personal time enjoys cooking, gardening and walking.