People aged 65 and over in Wolverhampton are being reminded to protect themselves against flu this winter with a free vaccination.

Available now, the vaccination offers the best possible protection against flu to people who are at risk of suffering complications if they contract the virus.

In the winter of 2013 to 2014, more than 9,000 people were admitted to hospital with the flu - and 10% died as a result of the virus.

Councillor Sandra Samuels, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: "Flu is a really unpleasant illness, particularly for those over 65. At that age, you are more likely to become seriously ill and have complications like pneumonia or make an existing condition worse if you catch it. This may result in an unwanted hospital stay and can even be fatal.

"Flu tends to circulate over the autumn and winter until March. The flu vaccine is available from this month, so I would urge anyone who is offered a free vaccination to visit their GP or pharmacy now. It's quick and safe - contrary to popular myth it can't give you flu because it has no live vaccine - and it's free if you're over 65.

"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.

"If you care for someone over 65 it's advisable to get vaccinated too, so that you can protect yourself and the person you care for.

"If anyone is unsure if they are eligible, they should speak to their GP or pharmacist to check."

People aged 65 and over should receive a letter from their GP telling them about the dates and times of flu clinics. For the first time this year some pharmacies are offering the flu jab too.

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.

Vaccines are available between October 2015 and March 2016. People should contact their GP or local pharmacy now to arrange an appointment.

  • released: Monday 26 October, 2015