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Health Matters - take advantage of the flu jab

Dr Paul Bowen, GP with McIlvride Medical Practice, Poynton, and GP Chair of NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)

Brian Pickering
Dr Paul Bowen

If you have ever had flu, you know it’s flu. It’s more than a bad cold, or a chesty cough.

Flu can reduce healthy people to bed for days. Flu is a serious, viral illness that can kill those at risk, and produce misery for millions.

As a GP, this time of the year produces the same excuses from a minority of people when offered the flu vaccine. “I’ve never had it so I don’t need the jab”, “Last time I had it I still got the flu”, and even “I think it is dangerous and don’t need it.”

Yet millions of us, me included, choose to have the jab as it offers the best, scientifically-proven way of avoiding the condition.

The flu jab is the best protection we have against flu.

Each year, the jab is manufactured to help the body defend itself against the most likely strains of influenza which evolve differently each year.

Public Health England helps develop a jab which is designed to fight the condition by boosting your immune system against the most likely strains to emerge over the coming winter.

While it won’t stop you getting a bad cold or unpredicted strains of the disease, it is highly effective, safe and rarely causes any side effects.

It is offered, free of charge, to people at risk. People with long-term conditions such as asthma and diabetes, people over 65, and carers including health care workers, will have been contacted by their GP surgeries and offered this jab.

People obviously can exercise their right to decline the jab, and we will respect that.

But with thousands of deaths each year attributable to flu, it is the strongest recommendation of both local doctors and nurses, along with the NHS as a whole, to accept the offer of a jab.

Please contact your local surgery to check whether you are eligible for the vaccination, and when they are holding their flu clinics.

These are often held at weekends and afternoons to help accommodate people’s busy lives.

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