Amble practice leads the way in roll-out of flu and Covid booster jabs

June Knowles, from Amble, having her flu jab.June Knowles, from Amble, having her flu jab.
June Knowles, from Amble, having her flu jab.
Health chiefs are encouraging people to do their bit and get their free flu vaccine this winter to protect themselves and others as the roll-out begins in Northumberland.

Experts are concerned this year could be one of the worst for flu infections because immunity has dropped off due to measures designed to control the spread of Covid-19.

But that doesn’t mean that flu has gone away so the free vaccine programme has been extended again this year to include all secondary school children from Years 7 to 11, while it will continue to be available to those aged 50 to 64, as introduced last winter.

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Among the front-runners nationally is Coquet Medical Group in Amble, where the administration of both flu vaccines and Covid boosters started earlier this week.

One of the GP partners there, Dr Ben Burville, said: “Despite the attention that we have all had to pay to Covid, it’s worth remembering that flu can be very serious and can even kill, plus it spreads easily so you can pass it onto others, potentially putting them at risk.

“Not only that but if you get flu and coronavirus at the same time you’re more likely to be more seriously ill. Those most at risk from flu are also more vulnerable to Covid-19.

“I would really encourage those in at-risk groups, particularly those where uptake has previously remained low, such as younger people with medical conditions, children aged two and three, pregnant women and care workers, to come forward and get their flu vaccine.”

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Regardless of your eligibility for a Covid booster, when you’re invited to have your free flu vaccination, you should book your appointment as soon as possible.

Dr Burville added: “Having the flu vaccination remains the most safe and effective way of protecting yourself and others.

“I would also like to remind people that we are here to help, but we and other GP practices are very busy and that Covid is still with us; we have continued providing a service throughout, but we have had to adapt to new ways of working so we are asking that those that come to use our services are patient with staff.”

Wherever you receive your vaccine, teams will be making sure that there are strict infection control measures in place. Please do your bit by wearing a mask, washing your hands and keeping your distance. Don’t attend your appointment if you suspect you have coronavirus.

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The annual vaccine works by boosting antibodies, helping the body to fight off the virus, and it is free for people who are at increased risk from the effects of flu. The vaccine is safe and doesn’t give you flu. Some people may experience a mild fever, up to 48 hours after having their jab, as their immune system responds to the vaccine, but this is not flu.

If you have children at school, please look out for a consent form from their school. Young children are able to spread the virus for up to 10 days, so it is important to have them vaccinated to protect older and more vulnerable members of the community.

Who is eligible for a free flu vaccine?

 Those aged 50 and over

 Those with certain health conditions

 Pregnant people

 Those in long-stay residential care

 Those who receive a carer’s allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick

 Those who live with someone who is at high risk from coronavirus (on the NHS shielded patient list)

 Frontline health or social care workers or those who provide health or social care through direct payments or personal health budgets, or both

 Children aged two and three

 All primary school children (Reception to Year 6)

 All secondary school children from Year 7 to 11

 Children up to the age of 17 with long-term health conditions.

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