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Vulnerable people urged to protect themselves from winter flu

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Vulnerable people urged to protect themselves from winter flu

Posted on Friday 12th October 2012

Vulnerable people urged to protect themselves this winter

Heath specialists are urging vulnerable people in Cumbria to protect themselves against flu and associated winter health problems this year, in a bid to reduce the number of avoidable deaths over the winter period.

The call comes as figures released by NHS Cumbria which show an extra 151 deaths occurred last winter compared to the average deaths expected over the whole year.

A significant number of those who died will have suffered from a variety of conditions such as coronary heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other common illnesses made worse by flu.

The best way that vulnerable people can protect themselves against flu, is by getting the annual flu vaccine.

The increase in winter death rates for Cumbria are similar to the average in England. However, England experiences large numbers of excess winter deaths when compared with other northern European countries, despite their most extreme winters.

Every year at-risk groups across Cumbria are reminded not to forget to get their normal seasonal flu jab. People who qualify for the flu vaccine should now start getting in touch with their GP surgery to arrange to get the flu vaccine.

Numbers of winter deaths in Cumbria in 2011/12 were less than in previous years. In 2010.11 there were 218 and in 2008/9, 308.

For most healthy people flu is an illness from which they will fully recover by staying at home and getting plenty of rest and fluids.

Older people, those with chronic illnesses or long-term conditions and pregnant women, are much more vulnerable to flu as they are at greater risk of developing complications such as bronchitis or pneumonia. This is why these vulnerable groups are invited to get the flu vaccine every year.

The first round of flu vaccination clinics are now starting to run at GP surgeries across Cumbria and health professionals are keen that eligible people are aware that they should contact their GP Surgery to book an appointment to protect themselves.

Everyone aged over 65 qualifies for a flu jab as well anyone aged over six months in the following at risk clinical groups:

  • People with a heart problem
  • People with a chest complaint or breathing difficulties, including bronchitis and emphysema
  • People with kidney disease
  • People with lowered immunity due to disease of treatment (such as steroid medication or cancer treatment)
  • People with a liver disease
  • People that have had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
  • People with diabetes
  • People with a neurologic condition such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or cerebral palsy
  • People that have a problem with their spleen or who have had their spleen removed
  • Pregnant women

Carers are also eligible for the seasonal flu vaccination so that they stay healthy to continue to help those they look after.

Dr Rebecca Wagstaff is NHS Cumbria’s Deputy Director of Public Health. He said: “If you're over 65 or if you suffer from a chronic illness or long-term condition then developing flu can be very nasty and may lead to complications such as pneumonia which can put your life at risk. Every year different strains of flu circulate in the community and the seasonal flu vaccine is specially developed to protect against these.

"It’s important that everyone is prepared for the winter flu season and gets the vaccine as soon as possible.

“The best advice is, if you fall into one of these categories, call your GP Practice which will begin running its vaccination clinics very soon and make an appointment to get your seasonal flu injection as it’s the best way to protect yourself.”

Any patient who is aged over 65 or in a clinical at-risk group as listed should call their surgery to book an appointment to get the flu vaccination.

Posted on Friday 12th October 2012


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