THE NHS in Sussex is urging people with long-term health conditions to book their free flu jab now, as it is “vital” to help them avoid potentially serious illness and even dying from flu.

Flu can be serious for anyone with a long-term health condition as they are more likely to develop complications, which could result in their hospitalisation and even death.

Last year, more than half of those with long-term health conditions in Sussex did not claim their free flu jab, leaving them vulnerable to catching the flu and getting very ill.

The flu vaccine is the very best protection, so the NHS flu jab is free for those who need it. It is vital that those who are eligible have the flu vaccine each year as it protects against different strains of flu, which can change and evolve each year.

This year with both the flu virus and COVID-19 circulating flu immunisation is more important than ever to reduce infections, protect each other and protect the NHS.

Allison Cannon, Chief Nurse Officer for Sussex NHS commissioners said: “Just the flu? There’s no ‘just’ about it for anyone with a long-term condition. When the flu virus strikes it is far more serious them and can result in serious health complications, such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and can even be deadly.

“We are urging everyone eligible for a free flu vaccine to take up this vital offer – with COVID-19 cases steadily rising nationally this might be your most important flu jab ever.”

Flu is a particular threat to people with long-term conditions that include:

·         respiratory conditions, such as asthma (needing steroid inhaler or tablets), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema and bronchitis

·         diabetes

·         heart conditions, such as coronary heart disease or heart failure

·         being very overweight – a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above

·         chronic kidney disease

·         liver disease, such as hepatitis

·         neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s diseasemotor neurone diseasemultiple sclerosis (MS), or cerebral palsy

·         a learning disability

·         problems with your spleen, for example, sickle cell disease, or if you have had your spleen removed

·         a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or taking medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy

All children who have long term health conditions should be offered flu vaccination from the age of six months.

GP practices and pharmacies are receiving batches of the vaccine during the flu season, and flu vaccination clinics are scheduled to coincide with these deliveries.

This does mean some may have to wait longer than they would wish to attend flu clinics (leaflet on why people may have to wait longer). The local NHS is reassuring those eligible there is plenty of time for everyone to book and get their flu jab.