flu virus and pregnant womenPeople with learning disabilities are being urged to take advantage of a free flu vaccination to avoid contracting the illness – as they are more susceptible to it than the general public and therefore at increased risk of developing complications such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

Anyone with a learning disability is entitled to receive a free flu vaccination. Carers of anyone with a learning disability are also entitled to the free vaccination. The vaccine offers the best level of protection from the flu virus, and it’s important to have the vaccine every year as the flu virus strain changes every year. 

NHS England has produced a short video in which Camilla, who has a learning disability, explains the importance of getting the flu jab and why she got it to help prevent getting ill this winter. She also encourages people to get the quick and easy injection, saying: “Do not think about the needle, think about something else that makes you happy. It is just one prick, one prick and that is it.” 

GP practices are currently carrying out vaccinations for those at risk and inviting them in to be vaccinated. Anyone who is defined as being in an ‘at risk’ group should contact their surgery and arrange an appointment to have the vaccine.

Having the vaccine sooner provides the individual with protection over a longer period of time; it also helps reduce the chances of spreading the virus to family and friends.

Nigel Acheson, medical director at NHS England South said: “Flu is a very unpleasant illness. Its symptoms can be miserable for many of us to endure, but it can also lead to more serious complications for those who fall within certain clinical ‘at risk’ groups. For example, some individuals with a learning disability can be more susceptible to flu and can go on to develop more serious complications. I would urge anyone in this group to makes sure they have the vaccination as soon as possible. 

“Carers of anyone with a learning disability should also get the free vaccine from their GP, the sooner the better to get the greatest possible protection.”