Chris Skidmore MP is urging all local residents who are eligible for the flu jab to get one this winter.
The MP for Kingswood has joined the Government’s calls for all eligible people to get vaccinated against the flu, combining a recent visit to a local pharmacy with efforts to raise awareness of the importance of the flu vaccine.
Chris visited Longwell Green’s Ellacombe Pharmacy this October to learn about the winter flu jab vaccination service they offer locally and discuss how community pharmacies can help ease the pressure on local GPs and A&Es in England.
This comes as the Government has recently launched its drive to vaccinate 30 million people this year, the highest number on record, as new research from Public Health England suggests that people who tested positive for both flu and Covid-19 were more than twice as likely to die, compared to those with Covid-19 alone.
This research looked at cases between January and April this year and found that those with co-infection of the two viruses were also more at risk of severe illness.
Flu is a serious condition that kills, on average, 11,000 people in England each year, with many more hospitalised. The health system is working to provide the free flu vaccine to the most vulnerable, including adults aged 65 and over, those with long-term health conditions and pregnant women, who will be offered the vaccine for free first through their GP or pharmacy.
For the first time this year, the annual flu vaccination programme has also been expanded to include more people who might be at risk, including all school year groups up to year 7, household contacts of people on the NHS Shielded Patient List and all health and all social care workers who have direct contact with the people they care for. People aged 50 to 64 are also set to be invited to join the programme for the first time.
Following his visit to the local pharmacy, MP Chris Skidmore said: "I was delighted to visit the team at Ellacombe Pharmacy and learn about their work to help local residents this coming winter and see how community pharmacies such as this can work alongside GP practices to deliver this important programme.
With COVID-19 still among us, and the known increased risk to life for those who are infected with both viruses, this year’s campaign is more important than ever to help protect the country from a double threat this winter.
The flu jab is often the best way to protect yourself during the winter months, and I would encourage all eligible residents to get their free vaccine via their GP, and everyone else who needs one to book their appointment, so we can help protect as many people as possible from flu and ease pressure on the NHS and emergency services”.
Melissa Liew from Ellacombe Pharmacy said: “The flu vaccination is the most effective way to protect yourself, loved ones and our community from flu. We must all remember that the NHS will not be able to cope with flu patients as well during the COVID pandemic.
Chris has always been a great advocate of the flu vaccination programme and the important role Community Pharmacies plan in delivering this alongside our other health and wellbeing enhancing work. We are always grateful for his support.”