A HUGE drive to ensure those entitled to a free flu jab get one was launched today.
Public Health England is backing a national campaign and driving the message home in Hampshire.
Dr Janet Maxwell is Portsmouth City Council’s director of public health.
She said: ‘For the majority of people flu is an unpleasant but not life-threatening illness.
‘However, older people, the very young, women who are pregnant and those with some underlying diseases are at particular risk of severe illness if they do catch flu.
‘In fact, if you’re in an at-risk group you are on average 11 times more likely to die from flu than someone who is not in an at-risk group.
‘I urge everyone who is eligible to get the vaccine and help protect themselves and their families this winter.’
Women who are pregnant, children aged two to four years old, those under the age of 65 with long-term and serious health conditions, people aged 65 and over, and carers of the elderly or disabled, are all eligible for the jab.
Vaccinations are given in GP practices and pharmacies in the area.
Having the vaccination would also reduce pressure on the health service, which will see an increase of people coming in with flu symptoms.
Dr Jim Hogan, head of the Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group, said: ‘The vaccination is one of the most effective ways to reduce harm from flu.
‘It’s particularly important for pregnant women, the elderly and very young, people with weakened immune systems, as well as those with underlying conditions such as neurological disorders, liver, lung or renal disease, heart problems or diabetes.
‘We would urge anyone in an at-risk group to get a flu vaccination through your GP surgery.
‘You just need to get in touch with them to book an appointment.
‘Don’t put off getting the flu vaccination; if you’re eligible get it now. It’s free because you need it.
‘It is vital that those who are eligible have the flu vaccine every year as the vaccine protects against different strains of flu which evolve each year.
‘It will also help protect you against potentially harmful complications that having flu might cause.’