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Featured Thursday, Oct 11 2018

Important flu message for parents of young children and adults with learning disabilities

Parents of young children and adults under the age of 65 with learning disabilities, are being urged to ensure that their details are on their GP’s learning disabilities register, as not only will they receive free annual health checks but also a free flu vaccination each year.

This important message comes as part of NHS East Berkshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG’s) on-going flu awareness campaign which started last month and will run up until March 2019. The aim is to highlight the importance of why people should be vaccinated; especially those deemed more ‘at risk’*.

People who have a learning disability can be more susceptible to the effects of flu and are therefore at increased risk of developing complications such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

Carers of anyone with a learning disability are also entitled to the free vaccination and are encouraged to be registered with their local GP practice as a carer.

To receive your free flu vaccination, simply make an appointment to see your GP or community pharmacist.

The vaccine offers the best level of protection from the flu virus, and it is important to have the vaccine annually, especially as the flu virus strain changes every year.

Having the vaccine sooner provides you with protection over a longer period of time; it also helps reduce the chances of spreading the virus to family and friends.

Associate Director for Quality and Nursing, Jo Greengrass, said: “Flu is a very unpleasant illness. The symptoms can be miserable for many of us, but it can lead to more serious complications for those who fall within certain clinical ‘at risk’ groups.

“Some people with a learning disability can be more susceptible to flu and can go on to develop more serious complications. I am therefore urging people to sign up to their GPs disabilities register if they haven’t already done so to ensure that they receive their free flu vaccination.

She added: “Carers of anyone with a learning disability should also get the free vaccine from their GP surgery or community pharmacy.”

* The Flu vaccine is also free for patients in the following at risk groups:

  • Those aged 65 years or over (including those becoming age 65 years by 31 March 2019)
  • Those aged from 6 months to less than 65 years of age with a serious medical condition such as:
  • Chronic (long term) respiratory disease, such as severe asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or bronchitis.
  • Chronic heart disease – (such as heart failure).
  • Chronic kidney disease (at stages three, four or five).
  • Chronic liver disease.
  • Chronic neurological disease such as Parkinson’s disease or motor neurone disease
  • Diabetes
  • Splenic dysfunction
  • Reduced immune system due to disease (such as HIV/AIDS) or treatment (such as cancer treatment)
  • Morbidly obese (defined as BMI of 40 and above)
  • All pregnant women (including those women who become pregnant during the flu season)
  • All children aged 2 and 3 years
  • All children in school years R through to year 5
  • People living in long-stay residential care homes, or other long-stay care facilities where rapid spread is likely to follow the introduction of infection and cause high morbidity and mortality.
  • People who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an older or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill
  • Consideration should also be given to the vaccination of household contacts of immunocompromised individuals, specifically individuals who expect to share living accommodation on most days over the winter and therefore for whom continuing close contact is unavoidable