NHS Birmingham and Solihull is warning that the cold weather could lead to more people getting flu-like illnesses – leaving those at risk more vulnerable if they haven’t yet had the flu jab.
The recent mild weather has meant that flu cases this year have been relatively low to date.
However, the cold snap over the past few days could cause a surge in flu, similar to last winter, with those who should have been vaccinated at greater risk.
Each winter the free flu jab is offered to people in 'at risk’ groups. These include everyone aged 65 and over, children and adults under 65 with certain medical conditions and all pregnant women.
But, whilst the majority of older people in Birmingham have now received their flu vaccine, there are still some under 65s with long term conditions, such as heart or breathing problems, and pregnant women who have yet to have theirs.
The vaccine takes around 10 days to start working, so the sooner people have it, the quicker they’ll be protected.
In Birmingham, 70 per cent of people aged 65 and over have received their flu jab, whilst 48 per cent of people aged under 65 with certain medical conditions and 38 per cent of pregnant women have taken up the vaccine.
Dr Andrew Coward, a GP in Birmingham and Chair of Birmingham South Central Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Flu is much more serious than getting a cold, and the effects of seasonal flu are often underestimated. Some people are more at risk from flu and need the vaccine because they are not able to fight off flu as easily as others. For these people, flu can often result in more serious complications which require hospital treatment. It can even be fatal in some cases.
“Flu can be prevented by having the vaccine, which is provided free at GP surgeries across Birmingham for those people most at risk.”
If you think you may be eligible for the free flu jab, call your GP surgery now to check and to book an appointment.
For more information, speak to your GP or local pharmacist, or visit www.nhs.uk/flu.