By Owen Sheppard
A North Kensington GP is urging older people and young children to get the flu jab, and criticised online myths that could discourage people from getting it.
Dr Meena Nathan, from the Exmoor Surgery in Ladbroke Grove, warned that the common flu can easily be spread to elderly and vulnerable people in winter, especially by their younger and healthier relatives.
“People often don’t realise how serious the flu is and that every year people die”, says Dr Nathan. “This year we also have coronavirus circulating and having both could be especially dangerous for vulnerable people.”
Dr Nathan cautioned against “dangerous” misinformation she has seen on social media.
She spoke of videos that falsely claim the flu vaccine is used to implant microchips, or to inject people with Covid-19.
“These videos are false and dangerous, and are not videos of the flu jab at all,” she said.
“The flu vaccine doesn’t contain any ingredients that will cause anyone harm, it simply helps your body to develop antibodies that will help protect you from the virus if you catch it in the future.
“It is much safer for your immune system to learn this through vaccination than by catching the disease itself. Once your immune system knows how to fight the disease, it can continue to protect you all throughout the winter.”
NHS data shows that, between 2015/16 and 2019/20, more than 11,000 deaths each year were linked to the flu.
Dr Nathan also highlighted the misconception that the flu isn’t serious for children. It can be very painful, lead to a high fever, painful ear infections or even acute bronchitis and pneumonia.
“Also important to note is that young children can spread the flu around the whole family,” Dr Nathan said.
“This can be particularly dangerous where you have older grandparents or family members with underlying health conditions such as diabetes or asthma living in the same household. So the flu vaccine – which is a quick nasal spray for children – can help to protect the whole household.”
She and other local doctors have joined in an online campaign, ‘Fighting Flu Together’ to encourage more people of different ages to get the jab from their GP.
Doctors are also stressing that GP surgeries are safe to visit, and that lessons have been learnt about how to make sure local surgeries are Covid-safe.
The flu vaccination is offered free every year to people aged over 65, people with long term health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, women who are pregnant and children age two-11. You can book an appointment with your GP or at your local pharmacy free of charge. You can also book an appointment with your local pharmacist via this website.
North Kensington residents who want to find out more can visit this website.
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