Health bosses are encouraging older people to sort their free flu jab and get protected well ahead of winter. Stocks of the vaccine designed for over 65s are now fully available – meaning anyone who still needs the jab can get it before the flu season hits.

The free jab offer is available at GP surgeries and pharmacies. All that ordered stocks of the adjuvanted trivalent flu vaccine, or aTIV, have taken delivery.

Siobhan Farmer, our screening and immunisation lead, said: “Rates of flu are currently very low, but we are expecting flu season to properly start to hit in the next few weeks.

“This year the aTIV vaccination has been developed especially for older people, and is deemed ‘the most effective flu vaccination in the world’. It’s certainly the best possible way for people to protect themselves and the people around them.”

She added: “Around 274,000 doses of aTiV have been ordered by Greater Manchester pharmacies and GP surgeries, with surplus doses available.

“With the current uptake rate for vaccinations in those aged 65 or over in Greater Manchester is approximately 46% we are keen to see an increase in that figure.”

The NHS is also providing flu vaccinations for other at-risk groups such as pregnant women and people with long-term conditions, as well as for NHS and care staff. There is also a nasal spray, which works better in younger people, and is free of charge for children.

In Greater Manchester campaign materials have been circulated to encourage people in at-risk groups to take up the flu jab offer, including billboards, social media advertising and our eye-catching ‘Matilda Challenge’ video.

Other initiatives have included a ‘fluathon’ where GP surgeries organised extra sessions for 2 and 3-year-olds to be vaccinated – one practice in North Manchester vaccinated 91 children in three hours.

Helen Barlow, Director of Nursing at Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “After last year’s extremely difficult flu season the message that flu is much, much worse than a bad cold is out there. It’s something to take very seriously.

“Catching flu at any age can make you very ill, and can lead to hospitalisation and in the worst cases, death.

“More vaccines than ever before are now available and I strongly encourage everyone in a vulnerable group to contact their GP or pharmacy and get their jab booked in.”

Pensioner David Ashley, 73 (pictured) had his flu vaccination at the Hopwood House Surgery in Oldham.

After catching flu in his 50s and being bedridden for more than a week, he vowed “never again” and has booked in for his jab every year at the first opportunity.

David said: “Like a lot of people I didn’t know how bad having the flu was until I actually caught it myself; me and my wife were ill for more than a week and not quite right for weeks afterwards.

“Since then I have never missed a flu vaccination. Given that it’s no hassle at all and also free once you’re 65 why wouldn’t you do it?”

Find out more about the flu vaccination at nhs.uk/fluvaccine

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