South Asian healthcare professionals are coming forward to encourage more people in the community to take up the flu vaccination given their higher prevalence of long-term health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease and liver disease.

Catching the flu on top of long-term health conditions, increases the chances of serious health complications and hospitalisation. Previous data has shown 60% of fatal flu cases are in people in a high-risk group.

Research from Public Health England (PHE) this year has also suggested that the risk of death more than doubled for people who tested positive for both flu and COVID-19 at the same time, compared to those with COVID-19 alone¹.

As a result, the flu vaccine has been made available to anyone aged 50 and those who live with someone who is at high risk from coronavirus (on the NHS shielded patient list).

NHS Urgent Care Doctor and Vice-Chair of the Bristol Muslim Strategic Leadership Group, Dr Koyes Ahmed, said: “Like many South Asians, I come from a multigenerational household where it’s often much easier to spread the flu virus amongst younger and older members of the household. Flu can be serious and even deadly for older adults, and people with long-term health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease.”

“There are still a lot of misconceptions about the flu just being a bad cold, but it can be extremely serious and lead to hospitalisation or even death. I would strongly urge those that are eligible to get the flu vaccine to get it as soon as possible. Rest assured we are doing everything we possibly can to ensure you are seen safely with social distancing, PPE and other safety measures in place.”

Flu vaccination is also offered to children aged 2-11 years old². New strides have been made this year to ensure there is a higher uptake, and this year you can request an alternative vaccine to the children’s nasal spray, which has sometimes been rejected due to its ingredients.

Dr Farzana Hussain, GP and winner of the Pulse GP of the year award in 2019, said: “This year more than ever, it’s so important to get your flu vaccine. The vaccine for children is a nasal spray and is available for children aged 2-11 years old. It is much easier to administer and is considered better at reducing the spread of flu to others.”

“For the first time, parents have the option to request an alternative vaccination for their children that doesn’t contain porcine gelatine, which we know has deterred some South Asian parents from getting the flu vaccine for their children. This is very promising news and I urge all those that are eligible to protect themselves and their loved ones by making sure their children are vaccinated.”