Free Medication and How to Stay Well this Winter

This year we are expecting a particularly nasty strain of flu. There are a number of measures which you can take to protect yourself and your family, and in some cases medications may be free or at a low cost.

Flu vaccinations for adults are free of charge if you are in one of the eligible groups.  Check with your surgery to see if you are in one of the eligible groups.  Pharmacies and supermarkets offer flu vaccines for patients who are not entitled to a free NHS vaccine for a cost ranging between £5 and £12.  There is no charge for flu vaccinations for babies or children, children aged 2 and 3 are offered a nasal spray flu vaccination. Babies aged from 6 months in the ‘at risk’ group are also able to be vaccinated. Local Schools are now responsible for ensuring that schoolchildren in reception and years 1, 2, 3 and 4 are offered the flu vaccination.

As well as flu, winter sees an increase in viral infections such as coughs, colds and sore throats. If you are aged under 16 or aged over 60 you are entitled to some basic free medication for these conditions, which you can get directly from the pharmacy without seeing a GP. The scheme is called ‘Pharmacy First’; it is also available to students, pregnant women and for people on some welfare benefits. ‘Pharmacy First’ also offers medication for other minor ailments, for more details about the scheme please see our website or collect a leaflet from the surgery reception or local pharmacy.

To help with the symptoms of coughs, colds and sore throats please wrap up warm and drink plenty of fluids. Use ‘Pharmacy First’ for basic medication such as paracetamol and Ibuprofen. These can be also be purchased at low cost from supermarkets, especially the supermarkets own brands. There is plenty of information on the NHS Choices website to help you stay well this winter.

One important topic frequently in the news is the use of antibiotics. There are guidelines for GP’s to follow regarding antibiotic prescribing. If you need to see a GP they will discuss your symptoms with you and if antibiotics are needed they will prescribe them for you. Many viral infections will clear up without the need to have antibiotics; it is only bacterial infections which may require their use. In some circumstances you may be given a delayed prescription by your GP for antibiotics. This should only be used if your symptoms continue.

We hope that you stay well this winter.

CMK Medical Centre

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