Suffolk residents urged to spread the word - not the flu, this winter

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Suffolk County Council is reminding people to get a flu vaccination to ward off the worst effects of a potentially debilitating illness.

The flu vaccination is one of the most effective ways to reduce harm from flu. It reduces the risk of serious illness, hospitalisation and even death among those who are most at risk.

Parents of 2-3-year-olds are being encouraged to take their child to have a simple nasal spray vaccination at their GP surgery, while carers are also advised not to put off their free flu jab.

Each year the NHS offer a Flu vaccination free of charge to certain groups to help protect adults and children at risk of flu and its complications.

This year the following are eligible for a free flu vaccination:

  • all those aged between two and three on 31 August 2018 (i.e. Those born on or after 1 September 2014 and on or before 31 August 2016);
  • all children in reception class and school years 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5;
  • people aged six months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups;
  • all pregnant women (including those who become pregnant during Influenza season);
  • people aged 65 years and over (including those becoming 65 years by 31 March 2019);
  • people living in long-stay residential care homes or other long-stay care facilities;
  • those who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance or who are the main carer of an older or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill

If you do not fall into one of the eligible categories, you can still get a flu vaccination for a small fee at most pharmacies in Suffolk.

Councillor James Reeder, Suffolk County Council Cabinet Member for Health, said:

“It’s all too easy to put off the vaccination due to other commitments. However, flu is a nasty illness that can leave its sufferers out of action for some time and can even cause death.

“Those at particular risk, because they are pregnant, have a health condition or aged 65 years of age or over, as well as carers all qualify for a free vaccination. If you are eligible for the flu vaccine get it now – it’s free because you need it.

“Visit your GP or local pharmacy as soon as possible. It’s a simple but vitally important way of protecting your health and reducing the spread of flu to friends and loved ones.”

The county’s healthy lifestyle providers, OneLife Suffolk, will be working closely with many of Suffolk’s GP practices, pharmacies and children’s centres to raise awareness of the importance of getting the vaccination.

Laura Beale, Campaigns and Marketing Lead at OneLife Suffolk, said:

“We will be sharing messages with local people about why it is necessary to have the vaccination, particularly to those who are eligible. It is so important to take up the opportunity, however there are also so many unclear messages and myths out there, so we really want to help everyone understand the importance.

“I am eligible for my flu vaccination due to asthma and I have had the vaccine for as long as I can remember. I have never had flu which I hope is a result of this, however I know many people that have suffered and for me it just would not be worth the risk. It’s nothing to be scared of, I was in and out of my surgery within a couple of minutes and I would really encourage anyone that’s eligible to go and have it done.”

As part of the campaign, OneLife Suffolk are seeking views about why people may or may not have chosen to have the vaccine in the past, please visit www.onelifesuffolk.co.uk/flu2018 for more information.

The most common symptoms of flu are fever, chills, headache, aches and pains in the joints and muscles, and extreme tiredness. Healthy individuals usually recover within two to seven days, but the effects can be more severe for those in vulnerable groups.

Flu is caused by influenza viruses that infect the windpipe and lungs. Because it is caused by viruses and not bacteria, antibiotics won’t treat it. The best way of avoiding flu is by having the vaccination, but it helps to practise good hygiene such as covering the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, using disposable tissues and binning them as soon as they are used and regularly washing hands.

For more information about how to take advantage of the free vaccination, or to find out more about winter flu, visit www.healthysuffolk.org.uk