PEOPLE across Somerset are being urged to get their flu jab ahead of winter as a way of reducing pressure on local services.

Vaccination clinics are starting in GP surgeries and pharmacies in the county.

Shaun Green, flu lead at Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, said getting the jab is particularly important for people with long-term health conditions, pregnant women and people aged over 50.

He added: "It’s been a very challenging year so far and we want to do everything we can to help people stay well this winter.

"With Covid-19 still prevalent, getting the flu vaccine is more important than ever to avoid becoming seriously ill.

"My advice to people who are eligible for the free NHS flu vaccination is to get this done as soon as you can so you are protected for the entire winter period.

"If you are offered a flu vaccination this year, please accept it."

People who are ‘at risk’ of flu are already at higher risk from contracting coronavirus.

Research shows that if someone has flu and Covid-19 at the same time, they are more likely to become seriously ill.

The flu vaccination is one of the most effective interventions to reduce harm from flu and pressures on health and social care services during the winter.

Professor Trudi Grant, Somerset director of public health, said: “The flu vaccination programme helps prevent those most at risk from becoming seriously ill from flu and helps protect the NHS at a time when they are already stretched.

"I urge everyone who is eligible for the free flu jab to take this opportunity to protect themselves and other vulnerable people."

This year the flu vaccine is being offered free on the NHS to people who:

  • are 50 and over (including those who’ll be 50 by March 31 next year);
  • have certain health conditions;
  • are pregnant;
  • are in a long-stay residential care;
  • receive a carer’s allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick;
  • live with someone who is more likely to get infections (such as someone who has HIV, has had a transplant or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis);
  • frontline health or social care workers.

The children being offered the vaccine this year, are:

  • all children aged two or three on August 31 this year;
  • all primary school-aged children;
  • all Year 7 to Year 11 secondary school-aged children;
  • children with a health condition that puts them at greater risk from flu.

Children aged two and three will be given the vaccination at their general practice usually by the practice nurse.

School-aged children and young people will be offered the flu vaccine in school.

For most children, the vaccine will be given as a spray in each nostril. This is a very quick and painless procedure.

If you aren’t eligible for a free flu jab you are able to pay for one at your local pharmacist.

The Covid-19 booster vaccination programme will run alongside this year’s flu vaccinations.