Flu is a highly infectious disease and can lead to serious health complications for anyone who gets it. However, there are also certain groups of people who are at particular risk from flu and as a result, are offered a free flu vaccination on the NHS.
The flu vaccination is completely free for pregnant women, children aged 2 and 3 years old, those with underlying health conditions and those aged 65 and over. The vaccination is the best form of protection we have against the unpredictable virus that is flu and it's free for these people because they need it.
Here’s why you should be getting your free flu vaccination if you have an underlying health condition
If you have an underlying health condition, such as: COPD, asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, diabetes, heart, kidney or liver diseases or have suffered a stroke; flu on top of health conditions like these can easily develop into something very serious and mean you have to go to hospital.
There are approximately 6.3 million people under the age of 65 with an underlying health condition and on average, around 8,000 deaths occur every year because of flu-related complications.
Underlying health conditions can affect the immune system and the way your body fights off illness. The symptoms of flu can be overwhelming for the body, so when the immune system is already fighting the symptoms of underlying health conditions the effects can be dangerous and sometimes even fatal.
- Those with chronic liver disease are approximately 48 times more likely to die if they develop the flu than those without liver disease.
- Those with chronic respiratory diseases are more susceptible to the flu damaging their lungs. They are seven times more likely to die from flu than those without respiratory diseases.
- Those with chronic heart disease are approximately 11 times more likely to die if they catch flu than those without heart disease.
- Those with chronic renal disease are approximately 19 times more likely to die if they catch flu than those without renal disease.
If you are eligible for a free flu vaccination
If you are eligible for a free flu vaccination this winter, all you need to do is contact your GP practice or local pharmacist.
Don't delay in arranging yours if you are eligible - the flu can strike at any time over the winter months. Remember, it’s free because you need it.