For good winter health, get your flu jab

Somerset’s Director of Public Health is reminding parents and people in ‘at risk’ groups that to maintain good health this winter it is not too late to get their free flu vaccine.

For most people flu is just a nasty experience, but for some it can lead to illnesses that are more serious, including bronchitis and secondary bacterial pneumonia, which can be life threatening.

NHS recommendations say the following people should have a flu jab:
• everyone aged 65 and over
• all pregnant women, at any stage of pregnancy
• all two, three, and four, year old children
• all children in school years 1 and 2
• all primary school-aged children in some parts of the country
• everyone living in a residential or nursing home
• everyone who cares for an older or disabled person
• household contacts of anyone who is ‘immuno-compromised’
• all frontline health and social care staff

Anyone in these groups who hasn’t yet had the vaccine should contact their GP, pharmacist or midwife now as they are at much greater risk of becoming seriously unwell if they catch flu, and sadly many end up in hospital.

Simple steps can help you towards good winter health. Being considerate of those around you and maintaining good cough and hand hygiene will help to prevent the spread of germs and reduce the risk of transmission for flu.

This includes remembering to cover your own nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough and sneeze and disposing of the tissue and washing your hands with hot water and soap every time you sneeze – as soon as you can.

Simple winter health steps include:

• Keep warm – this may help prevent colds, flu or more serious health conditions such as heart attacks, strokes and pneumonia.
• Look out for your neighbours, friends and family to see they are coping well and whether they need your help.
• Eat well – food gives you energy, which helps to keep you warm. So, try to have regular hot meals and drinks throughout the day.

Councillor Anna Groskop, Cabinet Member with responsibility for health said: “For good health during the winter months remember that the flu vaccine is still the best protection we have against an unpredictable virus. It can reduce the risk of serious illness, ending up in hospital, and even death among those who are most at risk.”

For advice and information about the flu jab please speak to your GP, practice nurse or pharmacist.
For winter warm recipes, crisp winter walks, cold busting exercises, steps to winter health and information about the flu jab visit http://www.nhs.uk/staywell/

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