Health experts in Cambridgeshire are reminding people who are under 65 and have long term health conditions to get the first jab in and beat flu this winter.

There's a concern that around 32,000 people in Cambridgeshire in this group did not get vaccinated during the 2013/14 flu season.

Free flu vaccination for groups at risk is available from GP practices and also from many community pharmacies in Cambridgeshire. Other groups eligible for vaccination include the over the 65s, pregnant women and for the first time, two - four year olds. For the younger age groups the vaccine is given through a nasal spray.

The most common complications of flu are bronchitis and pneumonia, which may require hospital admission and can be life threatening even if long term health conditions are well controlled. In pregnant women flu can lead to serious complications that can damage the health of both mother and baby.

Eligibility for a flu vaccination due to a long-term health condition covers a range of illnesses. These include: chronic renal disease, chronic heart disease, chronic respiratory disease, chronic liver disease, diabetes, chronic neurological disease (including stroke/transient ischaemic attack), and those whose immune system is suppressed due to disease or treatment, including patients undergoing chemotherapy. Individuals with no spleen or dysfunction of the spleen are also eligible.

In addition to the groups already mentioned, flu vaccination is recommended for:

* Those in long stay residential or nursing homes

* Carers of elderly or disabled people

* Health and social care staff who are in direct contact with patients/clients

The majority of people will be able to be vaccinated at their GP surgery - most practices have special clinic sessions during the autumn - and this year, arrangements have been made for many community pharmacies to give the vaccine to the at risk groups.

Contact your GP for more information visit here 

A list of pharmacies in your local area can be found here. Once you have searched for pharmacies near where you live, click on one and check its "Departments and Services" section. This will advise if the pharmacy you have selected provides NHS flu vaccinations.

Linda Sheridan, Public Health doctor at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: "If you have a long term health condition, it's vital that you get your free flu jab whatever your age. Being at risk from flu isn't age related and we are concerned about the 50 percent of the under 65s with long term health conditions who don't get a free jab. If you are in this group and don't get vaccinated, you are putting yourself in a potentially life threatening situation by being at risk of catching flu, even if your condition is being well managed. Flu can be dangerous, can hospitalise and even kill. Family and friends can play their part in reminding those at risk to get vaccinated. If you are in one of the vulnerable groups, please contact your GP or one of the listed pharmacists to get your free jab at the earliest opportunity."

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Kilian Bourke, Chairman of the Health Committee at the County Council, added: " "It's important that the whole health system works together to minimise the risk of flu to people's health and the impact it has on our hospitals. Jokes about man flu can sometimes trivialise the real condition by association, when for people with long term health conditions and other vulnerable groups the flu can have very serious consequences. If you know someone who is likely to be eligible please do encourage them to contact their GP or pharmacist to get their free flu jab."

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