Everyone aged 65 and over can have the flu vaccine; available from your GP or local community pharmacy for free.
The risk of serious illness from flu and consequent hospitalisation is higher among those aged 65 years and older as they are more likely to have an underlying health problem.
Also, as people get older, their immune systems tend to be less effective compared to when they were younger. The best way for people at risk from flu to protect themselves is to have the flu vaccination.
Flu is a highly infectious disease. The symptoms that come on very quickly include fever, chills, headaches, aches and pains in the joints and muscles, and extreme tiredness.
For most healthy people, a bad bout of flu is worse than a heavy cold usually requiring someone to spend a few days in bed. However, serious infections, especially in those with underlying health conditions, although less common, can lead to hospitalisation, permanent disability and even death.
It is caused by viruses that are spread from person to person. They infect the respiratory system, where they can lead to pneumonia and other complications. The viruses are constantly changing and this is one of the main reasons why people should be vaccinated annually.
Flu is spread by coughs and sneezes that propel infected droplets of saliva or nasal secretions into the air which are then breathed in by others. The disease is also spread by people touching surfaces that the droplets have landed on and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes. This is why frequent hand washing or using an antiseptic hand rub is so important during the winter flu season.
The best way to avoid getting the flu is by having the vaccination. Doing so reduces the risk of developing the illness significantly.
Dr Shahed Ahmad, NHS England Medical Director for Hampshire, and the Thames Valley said:
“It’s important that everyone aged sixty-five and over get their flu vaccine as soon as possible. Older people are at greater risk of developing more serious illness if they succumb to a bout of the flu, which in turn could lead to pneumonia and other serious complications.
“Protecting yourself against flu is easy: Having an annual flu vaccination available from your GP practice or local community pharmacy, will provide you with the best possible chance of avoiding the disease and potentially other more serious complications”.
- Many GP Practices hold large flu vaccination clinics. It is best to find out dates and times by checking on Practice websites or by telephoning the Practice direct.
- Participating community pharmacies also offer a service for patients eligible for the Free Flu Vaccine.
- Full details of who should have the flu vaccine are available via this link to the NHS.uk website: https://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vaccinations/Pages/who-should-have-flu-vaccine.aspx
- Flu kills an average of 8,000 people every year.
- The free flu vaccination is offered to those who are at increased risk from the effects of flu. These include people aged 65 and over, pregnant women, those with underlying health conditions and children (aged 2-9).
- This year, we’re offering a more effective ‘adjuvanted’ vaccine to those aged 65 and over, which helps their immune systems develop protection against flu. We are providing the ‘quadrivalent’ vaccine, which offers protection against four strains of flu, to those aged 18-64 with underlying health conditions. In addition, we are offering the vaccine as a nasal spray to an extra school year (year 5), meaning all children aged 2-9 can be vaccinated.
- For older people this could reduce GP consultations by 30,000, hospitalisations by over 2,000 and prevent over 700 hospital deaths from flu in England.
- If you’re eligible, get your flu vaccination from your general practice or pharmacy to protect yourself this winter before the end of November.
- For media enquiries call: 0113 824 9846
About NHS England
NHS England leads the National Health Service (NHS) in England – setting the priorities and direction, encouraging and informing the national debate to improve health and care.
The NHS in England deals with over 1 million patients every 36 hours and employs more than 1.5 million people, putting it in the top five of the world’s largest workforces NHS England shares out more than £100 billion in funds and holds organisations to account for spending this money effectively for patients and efficiently for the tax payer. It strongly believes in health and high quality care for all, now and for future generations.