Flu: the force awakens

Excitement about the new Star Wars film may have reached fever pitch – but that’s not the only thing spreading across this nation this December. It’s winter time, and that can only mean one thing: flu.

Central Bedfordshire Council is reminding eligible residents, in particular pregnant women, and parents and carers of young children, that you don’t need anything as drastic as a lightsaber to cut flu down in its tracks – a painless, free vaccination will do the job.

The free flu vaccination is available to all pregnant women, all children aged between two and six, and children aged six months upwards with a serious medical condition.

Children are given the flu vaccination as a nasal spray, which not only protects them, but also their family, carers and members of the community who are more vulnerable to flu such as older people and those with long-term illnesses. That’s because children don’t always cover their mouths when sneezing, use tissues, or wash their hands.

It’s especially important to get your child vaccinated against flu if they are over six months old and have a serious medical condition such as respiratory, heart, kidney, liver or neurological disease.

Pregnant women should also be sure to get their free flu vaccination because the immune system is naturally suppressed when they are expecting, meaning that they are more likely to develop complications from flu such as pneumonia, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy. Flu can also lead to early labour, miscarriage or low birth weight.

The protection from a flu jab will be passed on from a mother to a baby until the child is old enough to be vaccinated.

Councillor Maurice Jones, Executive Member for Health at Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “In Central Bedfordshire last year more than half of children aged two, three and four, and almost half of pregnant women who were eligible for a free flu vaccination did not get one.

“The flu vaccine is safe and effective, and can reduce the chances of getting flu infection and its complications by 70 per cent and reduce the risk of death from flu by 80 per cent.”

You can contact your local GP surgery to make an appointment for your free flu vaccination, or speak to your local pharmacy – more than 20 pharmacies across Central Bedfordshire are offering the vaccine.empty (link opens in new window)

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