In response to the latest flu jab uptake figures, doctors across Derbyshire are urging those most at risk from flu to protect themselves and their families as a matter of priority with a free flu jab.
Full protection from the vaccine takes up to two weeks to develop and people should act now to get flu safe and make sure that flu doesn’t ruin their Christmas.
Dr Steve Lloyd, chairman of NHS Hardwick Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Flu can knock even the healthiest people off their feet for a couple of weeks but, for some people, it can be really serious - it can even be a killer.”
Those at most risk include pregnant women, people living with a health condition such as severe asthma, chest or heart complaints, and those aged 65 and over.
In recent years, critical care units across the region have been busy with people who should have been vaccinated against flu but instead ended up so seriously ill over Christmas that they had to be ventilated as doctors battled to keep them alive.
Most of these patients were young and middle-aged adults with long-term health conditions, as well as pregnant women, who would have been eligible for a free flu jab on the NHS.
Dr Lloyd added: “The latest statistics show that, worryingly, only 40 per cent of at-risk under 65s in Hardwick have had the flu jab so far this winter, even though the vaccine has been widely available since the beginning of October.
“I really want to emphasise how serious flu can be. Not only can it stop you caring for your kids and keep you off work, it can lead to more serious illness and a spell in hospital – and no one wants that over Christmas.”