ARMED with more than 40,000 needles, NHS Portsmouth is ready to go with this year’s batch of flu vaccinations.
And it is urging people to get themselves immunised against the virus as it launches its annual campaign.
Health bosses want to make sure that five ‘at risk’ groups get the vaccination.
Flu co-ordinator at NHS Portsmouth, Matt Pickerill, said: ‘We’re concerned with five groups of people getting the flu jab.
‘Most well known are the over-65s, as ageing makes us more vulnerable to complications with flu.
‘Generally we meet our target for vaccinating older people – but only just.
‘Secondly there a large group of people with health conditions, such as asthma and diabetes, that make them at risk of serious illness from flu.
‘Everyone with these conditions over six months old should consider the flu jab.’
Other health conditions include heart conditions, liver disease, kidney disease and those suffering from motor neurone diseases.
Mr Pickerill added: ‘Next there are carers – people who are at risk of passing on the flu to an at-risk patient because they are in close contact.
‘And nowadays, since the swine flu outbreak highlighted the risk, we offer flu vaccine to all pregnant women, and we would strongly encourage them to take it up. The risk of complications from flu increases five-fold during pregnancy.
‘Finally there are NHS workers. We don’t want them harbouring flu and passing it on to patients and then going off sick themselves.
‘We’ve struggled in the past to get the flu vaccine message to all staff, and this year we are working extra hard to push it.’
Last year, 74.4 per cent of over-65s were vaccinated – falling below the target of 75 per cent, which has been set by the Department of Health.
The same target has been set this year, and 60 per cent uptake for the under-65s category.
Last year 51.7 per cent of under-65s had the jab.
‘We don’t know for sure if everyone who is entitled to a flu jab realises it,’ added Mr Pickerill.
‘Or if they don’t go because they don’t think it is important enough or even if they have a misunderstanding about the jab.
‘So part of planning over 40,000 flu vaccines every winter is to make sure that those who are eligible for a flu jab know that they are, and can make an informed choice.’
Vaccines are available from your GP surgery, who will be able to advise if you can qualify.