The best way to protect yourself and your family is to get the flu jab. If you are in a risk group, are pregnant or aged over 65 or over, it is really important to get vaccinated; contact your GP surgery and make an appointment.
For most healthy people, flu is an unpleasant but usually self-limiting disease with recovery generally within a week. However, older people, the very young, pregnant women and those with underlying disease are at particular risk of severe illness if they catch flu.
Why should you be vaccinated?
- Every year, hundreds of thousands of people may see their GP and tens of thousands may be hospitalised because of flu each winter.
- Symptoms of flu can be very unpleasant and can last for several days – flu can lead to more serious complications like pneumonia and bronchitis which need hospital treatment.
- Around 760 people were admitted to intensive care with complications of flu last year.
- Those who have long term conditions are among the most at risk from flu – if you’re in an at risk group you are on average 11 times more likely to die than someone who is not in an at-risk group.
Am I in an ‘at risk’ group?
At risk groups cover those with a long term health condition, i.e. diabetes, those with a weakened immune system (e.g. HIV or cancer patients), heart disease, chronic respiratory disease (e.g. severe asthma, COPD, bronchitis), kidney disease, liver disease, chronic neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and people in long stay residential homes.
Advice for carers
Every winter, the vast majority of unpaid carers miss out on a free flu jab, despite the fact that they’re entitled to request one if they’re the main carer for someone who’s ill or disabled and whose health would be at risk if they fell ill.
If a carer is struck down by the flu and becomes too ill to care, there may be no-one else who can step in and look after the person they care for. At the same time, if a carer is looking after someone with a weakened immune system and gets the flu, they could pass the virus on, even if that person has had a flu jab.
A carer is someone who is in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or someone who is the main carer of an older or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill.
Annual administration of the flu vaccine to children is expected to reduce flu-related illness, GP consultations, hospital admissions and deaths. The vaccine will not only protect healthy children from flu, but will also help to reduce the spread of flu and protect others, such as younger siblings, grandparents and those who are at an increased risk of becoming seriously ill from flu.
From September onwards, young children aged two, three and four will be offered a nasal spray vaccine, by their GP, to protect them against flu. The nasal spray vaccine has proved to be more effective in preventing flu in children than other flu vaccines. Young children’s close contact with each other means they are more likely to transmit the virus to other more vulnerable groups – including infants and older people.
In Leicester, all children in school years one to six will also be offered the nasal flu vaccine at their school. If your child misses this vaccination for some reason, there is still time for them to be vaccinated. You should contact your GP and they will be able to vaccinate your child.
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