Health chiefs in Suffolk are reminding people to get a flu vaccination to ward off the worst effects of a potentially debilitating illness.
Parents of 2-3-year-olds are being encouraged to take their child to have a simple nasal spray vaccination at their GP surgery, while carers are also advised not to put off their free flu jab.
With higher than usual numbers of people contracting flu in the Southern Hemisphere during their winter season earlier this year, it is more important than ever not to delay getting the vaccination.
Flu is a highly infectious disease and can lead to serious complications, especially among some of the most vulnerable groups. Public Health England’s Chief Medical Officer has warned flu and the complications associated with it cause, on average, 8,000 deaths a year.
People with long term health conditions such as diabetes, heart, kidney or liver disease are eligible for a free vaccination, as are pregnant women and all those over 65s.
Children from reception class to year 4 will receive their nasal spray vaccination at school as part of the national vaccination programme and those aged 2 and 3 can have the spray vaccination from their GP. .
Cllr Tony Goldson, Cabinet Member for Health, said:
“It’s all too easy to put off the vaccination due to other commitments, or thinking it won’t work. However, flu is a nasty illness that can leave its sufferers out of action for some time, and could even land those at greatest risk in hospital. The vaccination offers effective protection against this illness.
That’s why we’re calling on people not to put it off, and to visit their GP or local pharmacy as soon as possible. In many cases it’s free for those who are eligible, or for a small fee for those who don’t fall into these categories.”
Flu can be especially unpleasant for young children, who in turn can spread it to the rest of the family, which is why parents of 2-3-year-olds are encouraged to see their GP for the painless nasal spray to ensure their children are protected.
The county’s healthy lifestyle providers, OneLife Suffolk, will be working closely with many of Suffolk’s GP practices, pharmacies and children’s centres to raise awareness of the importance of getting the vaccination.
Dr Mark Shenton, a GP in Stowmarket and chairman of NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said:
“This year Australia experienced its worst ever flu outbreak on record. The global circulation of the virus means that the seriousness of this outbreak could be reflected in the UK over the winter months. In a country with around one-third of the population of the UK, Australia has already experienced almost 400 flu related deaths.
“It is more important than ever for vulnerable people to contact their GP practice and arrange to have a flu vaccination. By doing so you could avoid the deterioration of a long-term health condition, an unnecessary stay in hospital or even death. The adult vaccination is quick and simple to receive. Eligible young children should get protected too, in order to prevent the spread of flu to other “at-risk” family members.
Getting a flu vaccination will help protect your health and help an already overstretched NHS to cope over the busy winter months.”
People should contact their GP, pharmacist or midwife to the get the flu jab.
Visit nhs.uk/staywell or healthysuffolk.org.uk for more information.