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GPs urge at ‘risk residents’ in Medway to protect themselves from flu and pneumonia

Date: 20/10/2008           Category: Medway PCT

GPs urge at ‘risk residents’ in Medway to protect themselves from flu and pneumonia Residents who are most at risk of developing serious difficulties from flu are being urged by NHS Medway to take advantage of a free jab as the winter months approach. The Primary Care Trust’s reminder is timed to coincide with the launch of the Department of Health’s annual flu immunisation campaign which aims to help increase the number of flu jabs issued at those most at risk. Those at risk include everyone aged 65 or over, adults and children who suffer from diabetes or chronic respiratory disease, including asthmatics on continuous inhaled steroids, heart, renal or liver disease. Last year, only 45 per cent of those under 65 in at risk groups took advantage of the free jab, leaving more than half vulnerable to the disease. PCT Medical Director Dr Peter Green said: “In those with other health risks flu can be potentially life-threatening. Those at risk should get themselves down to their local surgery to get vaccinated, this will protect them from getting flu in the months to come.” “Those people who had the jab last year will need to get a new jab this winter because the virus changes every year and the vaccine needs to match the latest strain of the virus.” The Department of Health is also reminding people that the flu vaccine doesn’t contain any live virus, so it can’t cause flu. The best way to avoid catching flu is to get immunised. There are also practical tips to help stop spreading germs to others and to avoid infection yourself. These include always carrying tissues, covering your cough and sneeze with a tissue, disposing of the tissue after one use, and cleaning your hands as soon as you can. For more information talk to your GP, nurse or pharmacist to find out more or visit www.nhs.uk/flu. Notes to Editors · Adults 65 or over are more at risk of developing serious complications from flu. · Adults under 65 and children are also more at risk of developing serious complications from flu if they have: -Serious heart or chest complaints including asthma -Serious kidney or liver disease -Diabetes -Lowered immunity due to disease or treatment -Have had a stroke/transient ischaemic attack or TIA (a condition caused by a temporary reduction in the blood supply to the brain) Their GP may also advise a flu jab if they have: -Multiple Sclerosis -Degenerative conditions of the central nervous system. Q&A: Q Does the flu vaccine give you flu? A No Q Does walking around with wet hair give you flu? A No, a lower body temperature can affect your immune system, but you have to be exposed to the flu virus to catch flu. Q Are only the elderly are in danger of complications from getting flu? A No, anyone can get flu, but people under 65 who have various conditions including, heart disease, diabetes and asthma, are more at risk of suffering serious problems from the virus. People who are aged 65 or over are also more at risk from complications should they get flu. Q How do I know if I have flu, and not just a cold? A Flu is much more serious than the common cold, and can have potentially life threatening consequences. You may have flu if you feel physically exhausted and if you are constantly thirsty despite drinking water. Other symptoms include aches and swollen glands, shivering, despite wearing layers of clothes and have the heating up high, and having a constant headache. Q How many people get flu each year? A Approximately up to 15% of the population develop flu each year For further information please contact: Name: Caroline Chick Phone: 01634 382707 or 01634 338457. Email: CAroline.Chick@medway.gov.uk