Carers are being urged to make sure they are vaccinated against flu this winter - to avoid infecting the person they look after or falling ill and being unable to care for them.

Every winter, the vast majority of carers don't have their free flu vaccination, despite the fact that they may be entitled to one.

Anyone who receives a carer's allowance, or who is the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if they fall ill, should contact their GP or pharmacist about getting a free flu vaccination for them and the person they care for.

Councillor Sandra Samuels, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: "Flu is a highly infectious viral illness spread by coughs and sneezes. It can be very unpleasant with symptoms which tend to start more suddenly, be more severe and last longer than those of the common cold.

"If a carer is struck down by flu they could become too ill to care. If no one else can step in to look after the person they care for, they could be at risk. Carers could also unwittingly pass on the virus and make the person they care for seriously ill, especially if they have a lower immune system.

"In addition, outbreaks of flu often occur in health and social care settings where people are in close contact with each other, so employers should arrange for frontline health and social care workers to have free flu vaccinations, too.

"Even if you've had the vaccination before it's important to get it again because the type of virus in circulation changes every year, and so the vaccine changes with it."

People should contact their GP or local pharmacy now to arrange an appointment, while health and social care staff should speak to their employers.

Flu vaccinations are currently offered free of charge to the following 'at risk' groups:

  • those aged 65 years and over
  • those aged 6 months to under 65 with a serious medical condition, such as a chronic respiratory disease, chronic heart disease, chronic kidney disease, chronic liver disease, chronic neurological disease, diabetes, splenic dysfunction or a weakened immune system
  • pregnant women
  • all 2, 3 and 4 year olds (on 31 August, 2015)
  • all children in school years 1 and 2
  • those in long stay residential care homes
  • carers

Anyone who is not eligible for the free vaccine can still receive it for a small charge.

  • released: Monday 2 November, 2015