I have been asked by the The Central Office of Information to put the following information on our website:
Free vaccinations against seasonal flu are available for people aged 65 and over and for adults and children aged 6 months to 65 years in certain risk categories from October 2009.
Amid all the publicity surrounding swine flu, it is important not to under estimate the impact of seasonal flu. Every year it accounts for approximately 8,000 deaths. It can bring on serious complications for people in “at risk” groups and lead to other serious illnesses such as pneumonia.
In the average winter, up to 15% of the population will be affected.
All people aged 65 and over qualify for the free annual seasonal flu jab, and in addition adults and children aged six months to 65 years with the following conditions should also contact their GP for a free seasonal flu jab:
* a heart problem
* a chest complaint or breathing difficulties including, bronchitis, emphysema
* a kidney disease
* lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (such as steroid medication or cancer treatment)
* a liver disease
* had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
* a neurological condition e.g. multiple sclerosis (MS) or cerebral palsy
* a problem with, or removal of, their spleen e.g. sickle cell disease.
The jab can never offer 100% protection from seasonal flu, but does have a success rate of between 70 and 80% while others are more likely to get milder symptoms.
Don’t forget, the seasonal flu jab does not protect against swine flu.
Patients with seasonal flu typically have a fever or a high temperature (over 38°C / 100.4°F) and two or more of the following symptoms:
• unusual tiredness
• runny nose
• sore throat
• shortness of breath or cough
• loss of appetite
• aching muscles
• diarrhoea and/or vomiting
In those circumstances you should stay at home, keep warm and rest, let a member of your family or friend know that you are ill, drink plenty of liquids and eat what you can. If you are in an at risk group or your symptoms get worse and you have chest pains or experience shortness of breath, you should contact your GP.
Seasonal flu peaks each winter between December and March, which is why the Department of Health and (insert your user group name if appropriate) is urging those in the at risk groups and those aged 65 and over to make sure they get their free jab now before flu starts to circulate.