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As winter approaches, it’s now time for those at greatest risk from flu to protect themselves and their families, and get flu safe with a free flu jab.

Flu is a highly contagious infection that anyone can catch, and it can be a really serious illness for some. Those at greater risk from flu include people aged 65 or over, pregnant women, and those with health conditions such as severe asthma, chest or heart complaints and diabetes.

The NHS in Richmond is launching the new Flu Safe campaign this week to remind people that they should make an appointment with their GP and get a flu jab.

Flu is not like a cold – it can be a really serious illness for some people and it doesn’t just affect older people. If you’re pregnant, have lowered immunity or a long term health condition such as severe asthma, a chest or heart complaint, or diabetes, then you should also get a free flu jab from your GP and get flu safe. The flu jab is safe and it can’t give you flu.

Julie Sobrattee, Chief Nurse of Richmond CCG, said: "If you're in any of the 'at risk' groups, the flu jab is completely free, and is a safe way of protecting you and your family in a matter of minutes."

Richmond CCG is encouraging everyone in the borough who knows anyone who may be at risk from flu to tell them how important it is that they get protected. People who are carers and frontline health and social care staff are also encouraged to get a free jab to protect themselves and those around them.

The flu vaccine changes every year to fight the latest strains of flu, so even if you had a jab last winter you need another one this year to stay flu safe. The jab doesn’t contain the ‘live’ virus so it cannot give you the flu.

Julie added “Flu can increase the risk of developing more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and can make existing conditions much worse. The best time to be vaccinated is at the start of the flu season from October to early November, so it’s good to get in early and get flu safe in time for the winter. “

Flu can knock you off your feet and make it hard to look after the kids or go to work. In the most serious cases, seasonal flu might land you in hospital - it can even be a killer.

Simply contact your GP to arrange a convenient appointment and get your jab. It’s quick, safe and free for those most at risk from the virus.​