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It’s not too early to plan for winter – protect against the flu

Published on Oct 01, 2019

With winter approaching, residents in North Lincolnshire are encouraged to get the flu vaccine to protect themselves and others against the virus.

Vaccines are available from GP surgeries and local pharmacies. It is important to get the flu vaccine every year to protect against the different strains of the virus.

The flu vaccine is offered free on the NHS for people who are at risk, including vulnerable and elderly people and children.

People working with elderly or vulnerable people such as health and social care staff, social workers and teaching staff should also get the flu vaccine to protect themselves, family, friends and the people they work with.

Cold weather can be harmful to health, especially for those who are high risk. The vaccine offers the best protection against the unpredictable virus. People with flu are approximately 11 times more like to die if they have an underlying health condition.

Flu is an unpleasant illness, though if you are healthy, it is not serious and you will usually recover within a week or two. However, for some, catching flu increases the risk of potentially serious complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia.

The flu vaccine is offered free on the NHS to those at risk:

  • People aged 65 years old and over
  • Pregnant women
  • People aged from six months to 65 years old who have a serious medical condition (check with your pharmacist or GP to see if you are eligible)
  • People living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility
  • Receive a carer’s allowance or are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill
  • Health and social care staff employed by a registered residential care/nursing home or registered domiciliary care provider, who are directly involved in the care of vulnerable patients/clients

Those who aren’t eligible to have a free vaccine can get their vaccination at local pharmacies for a small cost. Not all pharmacies offer the flu vaccine, it is advised that people check their local pharmacies for availability.

This year the flu vaccine, in the form of a nasal spray, is being offered to all primary school aged children. The vaccine is available free on the NHS for:

  • All children aged two to 10 (but not 11 years or older) on 31 August 2019
  • Children aged from six months to 17 with long-term health conditions

Nurses from Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH) will be aiming to immunise 14,000 young people against the flu by visiting schools across North Lincolnshire from mid-October.

Further details about the flu virus and vaccine can be found at www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine/.

Cllr Carl Sherwood, cabinet member of environment and community wellbeing, said:

“There are many myths that we hear year after year about the flu vaccine such as it can give you the flu. This is not true. We hope to encourage as many people as possible to get the flu vaccine. The flu virus can affect anyone no matter how good their immune system.

“The flu vaccine helps protect our own health and minimise the risk of others who are more vulnerable. Make sure you don’t put off getting the flu vaccine. It only takes a few minutes. Flu is easily spread and even those with mild symptoms can still pass it on to others.

“Book your flu vaccine with your GP or local pharmacy as soon as you can to make sure you are protected.”

Maurice Madeo, deputy director of infection prevention and control at Northern Lincolnshire and Goole (NLAG) Hospital Trust, said:

“I am really proud of the great strides over the past few years in increasing the number of frontline staff who have rolled up their sleeves and had the jab. This is something we want to continue building on each year.

“Winter is a busy time for the NHS and it is great to see staff playing their part by protecting themselves – reducing staff absence during this critical time.

“Outbreaks of flu can occur in health and social care settings, and because flu is so contagious, staff and patients are all at risk of infection. I would urge all frontline staff – doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, porters and domestics – to get their jabs.”

Jan Paine, programme lead for RDaSH’s School Age Vaccination Team, said:

“Children are most likely to spread infection, therefore vaccinating children against flu will not only protect the child from the illness but also reduces the spread of the disease to family members, teachers and those most vulnerable to infection. Having the nasal spray in school is an easy and affective way to protect your child”

Top tips to reduce your risk of catching flu:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
  • Dispose of tissues quickly
  • Regularly wash your hands with soap and water or use a sanitising gel
  • Remember – catch it, bin it, kill it
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