A HEALTH boss in Somerset is urging people with long-term conditions and those over 65 to get a free flu jab.

Dr Helen Thomas, clinical lead for urgent care at Somerset Clinical Commissioning, said the people most at risk of catching flu are the over 65s, pregnant women, those in long-stay care facilities and those with long-term conditions.

She added: "However, it’s not just these individuals who need to be vaccinated – their carers should be vaccinated too.

"If you receive a carer's allowance, or you're the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill, you will also be eligible for a free jab.

"Frontline health and social care workers are also eligible to receive the flu vaccine. It's your employer's responsibility to arrange and pay for this vaccine.

"The NHS target for this year is to immunise 100 per cent of all frontline staff, so it’s important that any healthcare workers with regular patient contact are protecting themselves and their patients from the risk of flu.

"You can be a carrier of the flu virus without exhibiting any symptoms yourself; this means you could unknowingly be passing the virus on to those who are vulnerable."

Most healthy people will shake off the flu within a week or two, but it can cause severe illness and potentially death for those most at risk.

Children are at higher risk of spreading and catching the disease as they generally do not use tissues properly or wash their hands.

It is important that you give consent for your children to be vaccinated at school.

Cllr Christine Lawrence, cabinet member for public health at Somerset County Council, said: "There were a reported 1,700 deaths related to flu in the UK last year, and we all can do our bit to see this figure reduce.

"If you are in one of the NHS identified risk groups, your GP will contact you inviting you to have a free flu jab at a clinic. Alternatively, you can visit your local pharmacy.

"Here at Somerset County Council we are encouraging our staff who work with ‘at risk’ groups to get vaccinated and the school-aged immunisation nurse team are now visiting primary schools across Somerset ensuring children are protected."