People in Havering with COPD urged to have their NHS flu jab

19 November 2019

GPs in Havering are urging people with a serious lung condition to have their free flu jab. 

COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) describes a group of lung conditions that can make it difficult to breathe because due to a narrowing of the airways. 

Some people living with the condition find everyday tasks a real challenge, so flu can trigger a serious flare-up and lead to major complications that require hospital treatment. 

Cold weather can also trigger the symptoms, so ahead of World COPD Day (Wednesday 20 November), GPs are encouraging everyone with the condition to have their free NHS flu vaccination to ensure they are fully protected this winter. 

Dr Aggarwal, GP and Chair of Havering Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “It’s vital that anyone with COPD or any other long term condition ensures they’re vaccinated against flu. 

“Contracting flu can significantly heighten the symptoms of COPD, and this can be prevented by a simple flu jab, available from your local pharmacy or GP. If you have COPD or another long term condition, you can receive the jab for free. 

“Many of our residents have COPD and don’t even know it, so they can struggle with breathlessness and lower quality of life unnecessarily. World COPD day a great way of raising awareness of the condition so people can get the help they need.” 

Smoking is the main cause of COPD. People often dismiss the early signs of COPD as a 'smoker's cough' but if they continue smoking and the condition worsens, it can greatly affect their quality of life. Stopping smoking will reduce the risk of this and other diseases. 

Common symptoms of COPD include: 

  • increasing breathlessness – this may only happen when exercising at first, and you may sometimes wake up at night feeling breathless
  • a persistent chesty cough with phlegm that does not go away
  • frequent chest infections
  • persistent wheezing

The symptoms will usually get gradually worse over time and make daily activities increasingly difficult, although treatment can help slow the progression.There may be periods when your symptoms get suddenly worse – known as a flare-up or exacerbation. It's common to have a few flare-ups a year, particularly during the winter.If you are having trouble breathing, after even mild exercise you can take the British Lung Foundation’s online breath test, which can help you decide if it’s time to see a GP. For more information, visit the COPD page on the NHS website which outlines the common symptoms and includes advice on when to seek treatment.