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Flu warning for people with a learning disability
10 October 2018

People who have a learning disability can be more susceptible to the effects of flu and at increased risk of developing complications such as bronchitis or pneumonia. 

GP practices and community pharmacies have started their annual pre-winter programme of carrying out vaccinations for those at risk. A full list of those eligible for a free jab is below.

The vaccine offers the best level of protection from the flu virus, and it’s important to have it annually, especially as the flu virus strain changes every year. 

Anyone 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. 

Anyone with a learning disability is entitled to receive a free vaccination. GPs are also keen that the carers of anyone with a learning disability also take up their offer of a free flu jab. All carers are urged to ensure they are registered at their local GP practice as a carer of someone with a learning disability. 

Dr Andrew Holden, a Portsmouth area GP, said: “We would urge everyone entitled to have a free flu vaccination to take up the offer as soon as possible. 

“It is particularly important for people in certain clinical ‘at risk groups, such as those with a learning disability, who can be more susceptible to flu and can go on to develop more serious complications. 

“We’d also encourage the carers of anyone with a learning disability to get the vaccine from their GP surgery.”

The flu vaccine is also free to:

  • Those aged 65 years or over (including those becoming age 65 years by 31 March 2019)
  • Those aged from six months to less than 65 years of age with a serious medical condition including chronic heart, liver, respiratory or kidney disease; or diabetes  
  • All pregnant women (including those women who become pregnant during the flu season)
  • All children aged two and three years
  • All children in school years R through to year 5
  • People living in long-stay residential care homes, or other long-stay care facilities where rapid spread is likely to follow the introduction of infection and cause high morbidity and mortality
  • People in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an older or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill.

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