Babies, children and adults with a chronic (long-term) medical condition are urged to get a free flu vaccine as soon as possible.

Those aged six months to 65 years with a chronic condition are at greater risk of developing serious health conditions from the flu and are advised to get a flu vaccine to stay protected.

Some of the serious health complications that could develop from getting the flu include pneumonia, bronchitis, septic shock, meningitis, and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), all of which are life-threatening conditions.

People who are eligible for a free flu vaccine include those with chronic health conditions such as:

  • respiratory and neurological diseases
  • heart, kidney or liver diseases
  • stroke and transient ischaemic attacks
  • diabetes
  • splenic dysfunction
  • weakened immune system due to treatment

Those with a chronic condition not listed above should contact their GP  to find out if they are eligible for a free flu vaccine and seek advice on how they could be affected by the flu.

This year patients who are classed as morbidly obese (defined as having a BMI of 40 and above) will also be eligible for a free flu vaccine.

Dr Megan Gingell, Public Health Registrar from Bedfordshire said: “People with chronic medical conditions are more at risk of contracting the flu and experiencing serious complications. From 2016 to 2017, 395 adults aged between 19-64 years old across Bedfordshire were admitted to hospital due to flu and flu related complications.”

Councillor Brian Spurr, Executive Member for Health said: ‘Flu can be very serious especially for those with existing medical conditions. Keep yourself and those around you safe by making sure you get a flu vaccine as soon as possible, it’s free, simple and quick to arrange and will ensure you stay well enough to enjoy all the upcoming festivities.’

Flu vaccinations are given annually, as flu strains vary year-on-year. The flu vaccination cannot stop all flu viruses, but it is the best protection we have against flu.

As well as getting your flu vaccination, make sure you take all your medications as prescribed by your doctor and keep your home warm at 18 degrees or above.