Concern as low numbers of ‘at risk’ people have flu jab

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Health officials are concerned vulnerable and ‘at-risk’ people in Eastbourne will suffer from flu and its potentially serious side-effects this winter after failing to have a free vaccine.

Pregnant women, people aged 65 and over, very young children and people with long term health problems, such as heart disease, lung disease, asthma, or diabetes, are eligible for a free flu jab as part of a campaign that launched in the autumn.

However, the Eastbourne, Hailsham and Seaford catchment area has seen worryingly low numbers of people take up the free vaccine.

The most concerning statistic shows just 22.9 per cent of pregnant women in Eastbourne, Hailsham and Seaford have been vaccinated this year, meaning thousands of women and their unborn babies are at risk of serious complications caused by flu.

Across the county, 52.2 per cent of elderly people have taken up the free jab, while just 31.3 per cent of the ‘at-risk’ group have done the same.

For most, flu is an unpleasant disease with recovery taking up to a week. However, it can be a serious problem for the vulnerable and can lead to dangerous complications or even death.

Public Health England head of seasonal flu surveillance, Richard Pebody, said, “People with certain long-term health conditions are at much greater risk of becoming seriously unwell if they catch flu and sadly, many end up in hospital.

“The best way people can protect themselves from flu is to take up the offer of free vaccination from their GP as soon as it becomes available. It’s not too late to get vaccinated and we urge anyone who is eligible to contact their GP now.”