Reassurances given to Richmondshire residents over flu vaccination

Health chiefs have reassured eligible patients that they will get their free NHS flu vaccination this year and officials are working together to ensure people in high risk groups get vaccinated.

The flu vaccination programme in North Yorkshire and York will begin at the start of this month.

To reduce the amount of pressure on the NHS, this will be rolled out in phases, with children, care home residents and high risk groups vaccinated first.

GP practices will start sending letters out to eligible patients classed as ‘high risk’ from this month with details on how they can receive their vaccine. Alongside this the school immunisation service will contact parents and carers of children in years reception to (and including) year 7 for consent for their child to have the flu vaccine in school.

High risk patients will continue to be contacted by their GP practices and vaccinated throughout September and October. This includes: residents in care homes or other long-stay care facilities, people aged 65 and over, pregnant women, front-line health and social care workers, carers and personal assistants for someone with a Personal Health Budget, those living in a household with people who have shielded and any people in a clinical risk group (aged from six months to less than 65).

This year, in addition to the normal flu vaccination programme, 50 to 64-year-olds who do not have a health condition putting them at risk of the flu will also be eligible for a free flu vaccine later in the year. GP practices will keep this group of patients informed and are likely to invite them for a flu vaccination in November and December once all other higher risk eligible groups have been vaccinated.

Dr Bruce Willoughby, GP clinical lead for primary care and population health at NHS North Yorkshire CCG, said: “Flu vaccinations are required every year as there are different strains of the influenza virus in circulation each season; immunisation is the best way to help protect people from flu. It’s a virus that has the potential to leave people very poorly, lead to hospitalisation and sometimes even death.

“We know that clinically vulnerable patients who have been shielding during the Covid-19 pandemic are still extremely worried about having contact with anyone outside of their household ‘bubble’, but I want to reassure those patients that practices will have arrangements in place to ensure they can administer vaccinations in a safe and bio-secure way. There will be strict safety measures in place, including social distancing, appropriate PPE, and strict hygiene protocols.”

Dr Lincoln Sargeant, director of public health at North Yorkshire County Council said “Having the flu vaccination is one of the most important steps people can take to protect themselves and others from flu and we encourage everyone who is eligible for a free NHS flu vaccine to have one this year, gaining early protection from influenza this winter.”

Patients who do not fall under any of the eligible categories for a free vaccine should not worry as they will also be given the opportunity to be vaccinated at local pharmacies.  However, it is crucial that those patients identified as ‘at risk’ are protected first.

For more information about at risk groups and what counts as a clinical ‘at risk group’ go to: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/who-should-have-flu-vaccine/