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Health

It’s not too late to get your flu jab

People in Cumbria who are the most vulnerable to flu are being urged to get their free flu vaccination as peak flu season approaches.

More people than ever are eligible for the flu vaccine and 25 million people in England will be offered it for free by the NHS but any adult can pay around £10 for one at a pharmacy. The free flu vaccination is offered to those who are at increased risk from the effects of flu. These include adults aged 65 and over, those with underlying health conditions, pregnant women, frontline health and social care workers, people with learning disabilities and their carers, and children (aged 2-10).

For the first time, the flu vaccine will be offered to all primary school aged children, which means an extra 600,000 children will be protected. For most children, the flu vaccine is not an injection, just a quick and easy nasal spray. Children aged 2 and 3 (on 31 August 2019) receive the vaccine through their GP and all primary school aged children are offered it in school. If you have a child who is of the eligible age, make sure you sign the consent form allowing them to have the flu vaccine at school.

The flu vaccine remains the best defence we have against flu and protects those people who are most vulnerable. If you’re eligible, get your flu vaccination from your general practice or pharmacy to help protect yourself this winter. Pregnant women may also be offered the vaccine through their maternity service.

Colin Cox, Cumbria County Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “We are now in flu season and the vaccine remains the best defence we have to protect against the spread of flu.

“If you’ve not had your jab, it’s not too late. It’s available from most GP surgeries and local pharmacies. For pregnant women, the vaccine may also be available through maternity services.

“The flu vaccine is free for those most at risk, so if that’s you make an appointment to receive the vaccine as soon as possible.”

Flu is a highly infectious disease and can lead to serious complications particularly for people with underlying health condition such as COPD, bronchitis, emphysema, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease or a chronic neurological disease like multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and some learning disabilities. Flu on top of health conditions like these increases the chance of serious health complications resulting in a hospital visit.

Aside from having your flu vaccine, the best way to prevent the spread of flu is to practice good hand hygiene. Catch coughs and sneezes in tissues, throw the tissue away and wash your hands.

Cumbria GP Dr Amanda Boardman said: “The flu jab is a simple procedure which could ultimately save lives. You shouldn’t wait until there is a flu outbreak and you should get the vaccination as soon as possible, especially if you are in an ‘at risk’ category. The option of the nasal vaccination is available for children and people with learning disabilities who require reasonable adjustment, ensuring that they are protected with this painless and effective process.

“Cold weather can often cause symptoms of illness, but many of them can be tackled by taking some simple steps and by visiting your local pharmacy. Remember to keep warm, if you have reduced mobility, are 65 or over, or have a health condition such as heart or lung disease, you should heat your home to at least 18C. Also make sure that if you have elderly relatives please make sure they are drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.

“If you need medical advice you can call NHS 111 for free 24 hours a day, seven days a week or visit NHS 111 online at: www.111.nhs.uk.”

Visit www.nhs.uk/winteradvice for more information and contact your general practice, pharmacist or midwife to get vaccinated.

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