Fight against Flu Begins

THE ANNUAL fight against flu is underway and people in Reading are being encouraged to get vaccinated against the virus. 

As well as being very unpleasant, Flu can be extremely serious for children, older people or adults with specific health conditions. In some people getting flu can make their condition worse and can also leading to serious complications such as chest infections or pneumonia.

As in previous years, the flu vaccine is being offered free to people in groups that are at particular risk of infection and complications from flu. Vaccinations are available through local GPs and pharmacies.  The groups being offered the free flu vaccine are:

• pregnant women;

• those aged 65 or over;

• carers of elderly or disabled people;

• people who have health conditions such as diabetes, chronic respiratory/heart/liver or kidney disease, neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or people recovering from stroke, weakened immune systems and people who are obese.

A painless nasal flu vaccine is available for children aged two and three through their GP.  Children in reception and school years 1, 2, 3 and 4 will be offered this by the schools immunisation team from Berkshire Health Foundation Trust.  The scheme to vaccinate primary school children during 2016/17 continued to show extremely positive results in protecting children.

Councillor Graeme Hoskin, Reading’s Lead Member for Health said:

“The best way to prevent getting this unpleasant illness is to ensure that you have the flu vaccine. The vaccination is quick, free and available in most GP surgeries and local pharmacies. Not everyone is able to have the vaccination and it’s therefore vital that those who work with vulnerable groups or as carers get the flu jab to protect those who are unable to have them. ”

“It is important not to put off getting the vaccination if you are eligible – get it now.”

Dr Andy Ciecierski, Clinical Chair for North and West Reading CCG and GP at Emmer Green Surgery, said:

“Getting the flu can be debilitating and at worst life-threatening. Please ensure if you qualify for a free flu jab that you get one as soon as possible from your GP or local pharmacy.”

It is vital that those who are eligible have the free flu vaccine every year to protect them against different flu strains that are circulating. Whilst most people who get the flu will have a mild illness, children, pregnant women and people with long term medical conditions are more likely to get flu complications, resulting in hospitalisation and it the worse cases, it can sometimes be life threatening.

Ends

Notes to Editors

Vaccines produced each year provide protection again the three strains of the influenza that the World Health Organisation considers may be the most prevalent in the following winter.

There has been around 50% (ranging from 25 to 70%) effectiveness from the flu vaccine in the UK.

Flu vaccination remains the best protection against an unpredictable virus which can cause severe illness and deaths each year.

The children being offered the vaccine this year are:

• All two and three years of age i.e. born between 1 September 2013 and 31 August 2015 via GPs

• All children in reception and school years 1, 2, 3 and 4 i.e. born between 1 September 2008 and 31 August 2013 via school immunisation programmes

For most children, the vaccine will be given as a spray in each nostril. This is a very quick and painless procedure.

For more information on children and flu vaccination see the NHS Choices information at www.nhs.uk/child-flu

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/pages/flu-influenza-vaccine.aspx