Local people aged 65 and over are being urged to claim their free flu jab by the local NHS, after figures showed a third of them missed their vaccination last year, adding avoidable pressure on local services.
With the NHS warned of a difficult winter ahead, especially on A&E departments and local GP surgeries, as they cope with increasing numbers of people seeking treatment.
Last year saw 21 over 65 year olds ending up in hospital in the Horsham and Mid Sussex area due to flu. Those requiring hospital care caused an avoidable extra strain on the NHS, with people aged 65 costing the NHS just over £69,400 due to the flu last year.
Local doctors believe this could have been avoided had those eligible taken up the opportunity to get their free jab. Just over two thirds over 65 year olds in West Sussex had the free flu jab last year, which means thousands went unprotected and were at risk of complications if they caught the virus.
Allison Cannon, Chief Nurse Officer for East Surrey and Sussex Clinical Commissioning Groups, said: “Local NHS staff are doing everything they can to prepare for the extra pressures expected over winter, which could be even tougher than the last for the NHS.
“The vaccine for over 65 year olds could reduce GP flu consultations and hospitalisations, freeing up busy NHS staff to provide care for those in most need, so we are calling on those eligible to claim their free flu jab so they don’t add unnecessary pressures to local health and care services.”
Practices will receive their flu vaccine stock over the coming weeks, those aged over 65 years old should contact their GP practice to claim their free flu jab.
Find out more about the flu vaccine at www.nhs.uk