A group of pharmacies across Shropshire has reported that more than double the number of flu vaccinations have been administered this year, compared with the same time last year.
Bosses at Lunts Pharmacies, which has two stores in Shrewsbury and stores in Craven Arms and Pontesbury, said they are delighted that customers are listening to the warnings about a potentially severe winter.
Owner Martin Lunt said: “About two months ago we began warning all our customers that the impending flu season could be more severe than recent years.
“We shared NHS England advice that there could be more cases of flu than usual after Australia and New Zealand experienced their worst outbreak for several years.
“We are very pleased that a lot of people in Shropshire appear to be listening to this and taking the situation seriously.
“To have already more than doubled the number of flu vaccinations we have administered compared to last winter is remarkable.
“We hope to have taken some strain off GP surgeries by offering this service, but I believe there are still people at risk who haven’t yet been vaccinated – I would urge them to do so.”
The figures are based on the flu vaccinations administered in Lunts Pharmacies in Hereford Road and Roushill, Shrewsbury.
Those at risk can have a free NHS flu vaccination without appointment and a private service is also available to anyone who does not qualify for the NHS service.
You should get a flu vaccination if you are aged 65 or over, are pregnant, have a serious medical condition, are very overweight or live in a residential or nursing home.
You should also consider it if you are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person or are parent to a child who is aged six months to two years, as you becoming ill could put them at risk.
Ian Swindell, a pharmacist who works at both Lunts Pharmacy stores in Shrewsbury, said it has been very busy.
He said: “We have been kept very busy with people wanting a flu jab and we are delighted about that.
“As it’s a walk in service sometimes we have had just one after the other, up to 10 a day.
“Our pharmacists who carry out the injections are fully trained and the process is simple and quick.
“If you had a vaccination last year you still need one this year.
“It can take up to 10 days for the vaccine to get to work and for your body to produce antibodies to protect you from the flu virus.”
Symptoms of flu can include a sudden high fever, dry chesty cough, chills, tiredness and joint pains as well as a sore throat and diarrhoea, all for up to a week.
Complications such as pneumonia – which can be fatal – can occur in certain groups of people.