As September fast approaches, so does the annual flu season.
Last year, record numbers of people in England took the opportunity to receive a flu vaccination, helping to protect themselves, their families and the wider community. Together they helped to keep flu levels low.
This year in the UK we will have both the influenza virus and COVID-19 circulating throughout the winter months. Therefore the NHS is expected to be offering people a flu vaccination plus a COVID booster. The vaccinations will begin towards the end of September in order to protect the most vulnerable before the flu virus starts circulating widely.
The GP practices which make up the ELY Primary Care Network* are currently working hard to put robust plans in place to rapidly deliver both flu jabs and COVID boosters to all eligible patients.
While final details are still to be confirmed, the seasonal flu vaccine roll out is expected to operate in a similar way to how the COVID vaccination has been delivered locally, that is with people in priority groups being invited first.
Details confirmed so far:
- all vaccines and boosters will be given at Cathedral Medical Centre or Staploe Medical Centre
- there will be no flu clinics at individual surgeries, except for nasal flu sprays given to children
- all eligible patients will be contacted by their surgeries when it is their turn
- the clinics are expected to be held during some evenings as well as Saturdays, starting from the end of September.
We expect that care home residents and staff, healthcare workers and those over 80 will be invited first. These are people who had their COVID vaccinations early in the year and who may now need a booster to ensure they remain as fully protected as possible.
People with chronic conditions or who are clinically vulnerable and those aged between 65 and 79 will also be called, with people aged 50-64 being invited in due course. It is hoped that the flu and booster programme will be completed as quickly as possible.
What do I need to do?
- St Mary’s Surgery will be in touch with you via text or phone to book your appointment.
- Please DO NOT ring the surgery to book. You will be invited for your flu jab and COVID booster when it is your turn.
More about COVID boosters
Our local COVID vaccination programme has been very successful. In the last eight months, we have given over 80,000 vaccinations to people living in Ely, Soham and surrounding areas.
It is very important that the protection from coronavirus which has been built up in our local population does not decline through the winter months and Ely PCN wishes to maximise this immunity especially against COVID variants. So our local booster programme will be designed to protect as many of our vulnerable patients as possible during the winter months.
More details about our local COVID booster programme will be issued in due course.
More about flu vaccinations
What is flu?
Flu or influenza isn’t just a heavy cold. It is a highly infectious disease that occurs every year and which can spread rapidly in communities. It is caused by viruses that infect the respiratory tract. That is nose, mouth, throat, windpipe and lungs.
Common symptoms include:
- fever, chills, headache, muscle and joint pain and extreme fatigue
- dry cough, sore throat and stuffy nose
- vomiting and diarrhoea, particularly in young children.
Healthy people usually recover within 7 days but for some – including older people, those who are clinically extremely vulnerable, pregnant women, and children under 6 months – the flu virus can be very serious.
How do you catch flu?
When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they spread the flu virus in tiny droplets of saliva over a wide area. These droplets are then breathed in by other people or they can be picked up by touching surfaces where the droplets have landed.
Even people with mild or no symptoms can infect others.
The best way to avoid catching and spreading the flu is to have a vaccination before any outbreaks of flu hit the local community.
Remember you need a flu jab every year. Please don’t assume you are protected because you had one last year.
Who is eligible for a FREE flu vaccination?
- adults aged 16 or over who are immunosuppressed or considered clinically extremely vulnerable
- those living in residential care homes for older adults
- all adults aged 70 years and over
- frontline health and social care workers
- children who are clinically extremely vulnerable
- pregnant women.
For a second year, all adults aged between 50 and 64 will also be invited.
St Mary’s Surgery encourages everyone who is invited to come forward for their vaccinations in good time.
*Ely PCN consists of the following GP practices: St George’s Medical Centre, Burwell Surgery, Cathedral Medical Centre, St Mary’s Surgery, Staploe Medical Centre and Haddenham Surgery.