Although it has been a mild winter so far, doctors are already warning patients to stay healthy this year by getting a flu jab.
The flu is highly contagious and can be a really serious illness for some, especially over 65s, pregnant women, and patients with severe asthma, chest or heart problems and diabetes.
Doctor Marshall, of Salisbury House Surgery, said: “As I tell my patients every year, the best way of preventing infection and keeping out of hospital with lung or respiratory illnesses arising from the flu is to get a flu vaccination.”
As flu strains change every year, the flu vaccine has to change, too, so even if you had a jab last winter you need another one this year - and it’s free if you’re in any of the risk groups.
Whether you have to pay or not, though, getting the jab is a safe way of protecting you and your family in a matter of minutes.
This year the NHS is offering a free nasal spray for children instead of a jab. It’s free for toddlers aged two to three and those aged up to 18 with other health conditions.
Dr Chris Marshall said: “Winter is the time when infections spread and, as I’ve seen among my patients, some people can become very seriously ill, keeping them off work or ruining their Christmas.
“With the holidays upon us again, we all need to keep ourselves healthy so we can enjoy our time with family and friends. “
It couldn’t be easier to access a flu jab; all GP surgeries in Leighton Buzzard offer it to registered patients in the at risk groups and also, some local pharmacists offer the flu jab.
And more good news for you is that all local GPs are offering extended hours, so it won’t be hard to make an appointment.
This includes Saturday morning surgeries, early mornings and some later evenings to 8pm. Contact your surgery to find out what they’re doing.
For more information, speak to your GP or local pharmacist, or visit www.bedfordshireccg.nhs.uk/home/ or www.nhs.uk/flu.