As Clinical Chief Officer for NHS Leeds South and East CCG I know how important it is that I keep myself as well as possible and with autumn just round the corner, it is the time when those at greatest risk from flu need to protect themselves and their families, and get their free flu vaccine.
I would encourage everyone in Leeds who knows anyone who could be at risk from flu to tell them how important it is that they get protected. Registered carers are encouraged to get a free vaccination to protect themselves and those around them.
Flu is a highly contagious infection that anyone can catch, and it can be a really serious illness for some. Symptoms include headache, fever, cough, sore throat and severely aching muscles and joints.
Those at greater risk include people aged 65 or over, pregnant women, and those with health conditions such as severe asthma, chest or heart complaints and diabetes.
From September, those people at most risk will be contacted by their GP to offer an appointment to get a free flu vaccination and parents will be offered a free nasal vaccination for healthy two, three and four-year-olds so they can be protected.
Remember that flu is not like a cold – it can be a really serious illness for some people and it doesn’t just affect older people.
It can increase the risk of developing more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and can make existing conditions much worse.
Flu can knock you off your feet and make it hard to look after the children or go to work.
In the most severe cases, seasonal flu might land you in hospital – it can even be a killer.
If you’re in any of the ’at risk’ groups, the flu vaccine is completely free and is a safe and easy way of protecting you and your family in a matter of minutes.
The flu vaccine changes every year to fight the latest strains of flu, so even if you had a jab last winter you need another one this year.
Each year, the viruses that are most likely to cause flu are identified in advance and vaccines are made to match them as closely as possible. The vaccines are recommended by the World Health Organisation.
The best time to be vaccinated is at the start of the flu season from September to mid-November, so it’s good to get in early and get flu safe in time for the winter.
Simply contact your GP to arrange a convenient appointment and get your vaccination. It’s quick, safe and free for those most at risk from the virus.
You can help prevent the spread of flu by being careful with your hygiene as flu can spread rapidly through the coughs and sneezes of people who are carrying the virus:
Always wash your hands regularly with soap and water.
Regularly clean surfaces such as your computer keyboard, telephone and door handles to get rid of germs.
Use tissues to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze and put used tissues in a bin as soon as possible.
For more information on the flu vaccine and how to get it, speak to your GP or pharmacist, or visit www.nhs.uk/flu.