Torbay Council’s public health team are urging people to protect themselves against flu this winter by getting a vaccination.
Debbie Stark Torbay’s director of public health said: “If you are eligible for the flu jab, get protected as soon as you are invited. It’s free and can save your life."
Complications of flu mostly affect people in high risk groups such as pregnant women, people aged 65 and over and those living with a long term medical condition such as asthma, diabetes, chronic liver or kidney disease, a heart or chest complaint or lowered immunity.
Health chiefs say it is not worth taking the risk and a simple jab can save a life.
Ms Stark says: "Don’t delay, as the sooner you have the vaccine the sooner you are protected.
"There is a common misconception, that the jab causes flu, the vaccine does not contain any live viruses, so it cannot cause flu.
"Contact your GP practice and make an appointment. This advice is particularly important for pregnant women, who can be hit hard by the flu virus."
Carers and those living in nursing or residential homes are also being offered the jab, as well as front line health and social care workers. There is also now a flu vaccination for children under two and three.
Although the majority of normally healthy people will recover from flu within a few days, patients in high risk groups are more likely to develop a serious complication such as a chest infection, bronchitis or pneumonia. Flu is more likely to put people in high risk groups in danger.
Dr Nick D’Arcy, clinical lead for patient safety at South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Local GP practices are preparing to vaccinate their higher risk patients to protect them from flu. The vaccine is free, safe, saves lives and offers protection for the whole year.
“For the majority of normally healthy adults flu is unpleasant and inconvenient, but they will usually begin to feel better within a week. Some people, however, are more likely to develop more serious complications. In a small number of cases, flu can cause vulnerable patients to become critically ill or even die.”
Dr D’Arcy encouraged patients to check with their local practice about this year’s arrangements for flu vaccinations.
Councillor Chris Lewis, executive lead for health and wellbeing said:” “Flu can be a really nasty experience. Being immunised each year is the best way to protect yourself against infection with the flu virus. Don’t wait until there is a flu outbreak to have your jab, if you are eligible, get in touch with your GP Practice and get protected without delay.”
The flu jab is available free of charge on the NHS to eligible groups. Eligible patients should contact their GP practice to make an appointment and get properly protected for the winter.