Somerset County Council is supporting the Public Health England and NHS joint Stay Well This Winter campaign which launches in Somerset today with the national flu programme now available to all eligible people.
The Stay Well This Winter campaign will help the most vulnerable people in Somerset prepare for winter and avoid having to visit hospital due to common winter illnesses.
People in Somerset who are the most vulnerable to flu are being urged to get their free flu jab now, ahead of the winter period when the virus is most common.
The programme launches as the Chief Medical Officer has warned that flu, and complications associated with it, cause 8,000 deaths on average a year in England.
The flu jab is offered to those who are at increased risk from the effects of flu. These include children aged 2-8, people aged 65 and over, pregnant women and those with long term health conditions.
Those in an ‘at risk’ category and eligible for a free NHS flu jab are:-
- Children aged two and three years; in reception class and school years 1, 2, 3 and 4; children with a health condition that puts them at risk.
- those aged six months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups
- pregnant women
- those aged 65 years and over
- those in long-stay residential care homes
- Frontline health and social care workers should be provided flu vaccination by their employer. This includes general practice staff and care home staff.
Trudi Grant, Somerset Director of Public Health said: “Getting the flu jab significantly reduces the risks of serious ill health and I would urge everyone in an ‘at risk’ groups to get the flu jab now before the virus starts circulating in winter.
“Flu is more serious for people with respiratory diseases, cardiovascular problems and those with chronic liver disease who are far more likely to be seriously ill if they get flu as they are less able to fight off infections.
“Another way of protecting vulnerable adults is to ensure parents vaccinate children, who are ‘super-spreaders’ of the virus. Last year’s flu vaccination programme reduced the risk of flu in children who received the vaccine by 65%. For healthy children aged 2-8 in Somerset the flu vaccine is given in the form of a nasal spray.”
Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer said: “Flu kills and we could save thousands of lives if everyone eligible got their free jab. Taking a few minutes to get the jab could save your life this winter.”
“People with respiratory diseases like COPD, emphysema or asthma are seven times more likely to die if they catch flu, and people with cardiovascular problems like chronic heart disease or angina, or those who have had a stroke, are eleven times more likely compared to those who don’t. The risk is far worse for those with chronic liver disease, who are 48 times more likely to die if they get flu.
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.”
Councillor Christine Lawrence, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing 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, hospitalisation and even death among those who are most at risk.”
To get your vaccine or find out if you are eligible you can contact your GP, pharmacist or midwife for more information. Visit http://www.nhs.uk/staywell/ for more details on how to help you and your family stay well this winter.
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Notes to Editors:
Stay healthy tips
- Staying active indoors to help keep you warm. Move around at least once an hour and avoid sitting still for long periods. Do not sit for more than an hour, get up, walk around to keep warm and circulation improved.
- Having regular hot meals and drinks to give your body the energy it needs to keep you warm.
- Wrapping up warm in layers of clothing. Wearing a few thin layers can help keep you warmer than one thick layer. A lot of heat is lost from your head, so wear a hat and scarf when going outside.
- If you are concerned about staying warm this winter, call the Home Energy Team on 0800 082 2234 for advice on energy efficiency including home heating, insulation and benefits.
- Need support with heating costs? Contact Age UK Somerset on 01823 345613, visit their website, or contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) to find out if you are eligible for a grant.
- Get expert advice – always seek advice from your pharmacist at the first sign of a cough or a cold, before it gets more serious
- Buy over-the-counter medicines (including paracetamol and ibuprofen) to relieve symptoms of common winter ailments such as colds, sore throat, cough, sinusitis or painful middle ear infection.
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