People in Dorset are being called on to protect themselves, their families and those they care for against flu this winter.

Local NHS partners have joined with Public Health Dorset to make the appeal as life starts to return to normal, in part, due to the success of the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Every year a free flu vaccination is offered to millions of people across the country who are considered to be most at risk from the disease.

This year it is being offered to eligible people in Dorset with the message that is more important than ever to get yourself protected and reduce the spread; not just to protect yourself and those around you, but to reduce pressure on local services.

Dr Simon Watkins is a local GP and clinical lead for urgent care with Dorset CCG. He said “Over the summer months we have all got used to hearing about the importance of vaccination against COVID-19, and the message around flu is really no different – protect yourself, help stop the spread and you could be saving lives.

“If you are offered a flu vaccination for whatever reason this year, please accept it.”

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 31 March 2022)
  • 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 2 or 3 years old on 31 August 2021
  • 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 2 and 3 years 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.

For more information on children and flu vaccination, visit NHS.UK.

Rachel Partridge, Assistant Director of Public Health Dorset said: “Certain groups of residents are offered a free flu jab each year due to being at increased risk of becoming seriously ill if they catch flu. If you identify as one of the priority groups, then please speak with your GP or pharmacist about getting your free vaccine.

“Around 11,000 people a year die from flu and thousands more are hospitalised. Flu is very serious. The best way to keep yourself and the ones you love protected from getting flu is by getting a flu vaccine.”

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

For more information, visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/flu/. 

The COVID-19 booster vaccination programme will run alongside this year’s flu vaccinations, for more information visit www.dorsetccg.nhs.uk/vaccinations.

It’s been a difficult 18 months with COVID and there is light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccination programme however, flu presents a very real threat following low circulation levels last year. We don’t want anyone to be complacent. The flu vaccination is your best defence in staying healthy this winter and protecting you, your family and the NHS.