Suffolk GPs warn flu vaccine is ‘essential’ for over-50s this winter amid coronavirus outbreak
- Credit: Archant
Over-50s in Suffolk have been warned that getting the flu jab is more “essential” than ever this year amid the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
A vaccination against coronavirus is still to be invented - but the government has announced that everyone aged over 50 will be offered the jab for seasonal flu.
It is already offered to over-65s every year but has been extended to thousands more Suffolk patients in 2020 in a bid to protect people from a potential epidemic on top of the global pandemic.
Although over-65s will be prioritised first, Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter - who himself works in the NHS - said: “This year of all years is essential to have the flu vaccine.
“If we compound Covid with seasonal flu it makes it more difficult to identify what the primary cause of symptoms are, unless they have the flu vaccine.
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“The flu vaccination saves lives every winter and builds a level of immunity within our communities so it’s not just people who are at risk from flu, but also healthy people who could spread it on otherwise.”
Dr Ruth Nabarro, partner at the Hadleigh Boxted Group Practice, said doctors there have 4,000 patients to vaccinate this year - 750 of whom are shielding from coronavirus.
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“It is incredibly important that we get everyone vaccinated, especially with the additional threat of Covid,” Dr Nabarro said.
“We have spent a lot of time on planning to ensure this is done safely and efficiently because it is just so important.”
Hadleigh has a large population of elderly residents who are more at risk from flu.
The practice is planning for how they can bring everyone in over the short time period in autumn.
“We are planning on how to stagger the jabs as we don’t want 4,000 people turning up in one day,” Dr Nabarro added.
“The first tranche is everyone who is shielding and then also the members of their households.
“We can create a one-way system through the practice so you come in, register, get your jab and leave via another exit and we’re training up even more people in time for the campaign so we can have runners to go out to people in their cars if they don’t want to come in.
“We are very determined and this is absolutely our role as a general practice to protect our community.”
The practice is liaising with the council and police about using public spaces, such as car parks, to create a robust and socially distanced system for vaccinations.
Martin Edwards, chief nurse at the Suffolk GP Federation, said: “Being vaccinated against seasonal influenza will help our NHS look after us all during this pandemic winter.
“The flu vaccination programme is always challenging – this year all settings are planning how we will deliver vaccines to a larger group of eligible people in a way that is Covid-19 safe.
“Please do one more thing to help us help you this winter – get your flu vaccination.”
More information will be released on how to get your flu jab nearer the time.