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At risk groups urged to take up seasonal flu vaccination

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Hampshire County Council's lead on public health, Councillor Liz Fairhurst, is backing the national flu jab campaign and urging everyone who is eligible to get the vaccine.

Those who are most at risk are urged to protect themselves from flu this winter by ensuring they get vaccinated against the virus which is spread by coughs and sneezes.

Anyone over 65, or who has a pre-existing medical condition, pregnant women and -for the first time - all two and three year olds will be called by their GP to get a vaccination. Full time carers of anyone who is ill, elderly or disabled is also eligible for the free vaccine.

A nasal spray vaccine is being offered to healthy two and three year old children. A new study published by Public Health England and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical medicine found that children are key 'spreaders' of the flu virus. Close contact with each other means they are more likely to transmit the virus to other more vulnerable groups- including children and older people.

Hampshire County Council is also promoting the flu jab scheme to some frontline staff, particularly in social care, to help prevent sickness and further protect more vulnerable people.

Councillor Fairhurst, who is Hampshire County Council's Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing (Public Health), said: "I urge everyone who is eligible to get the vaccine and help protect themselves and their families this winter. Flu can be very serious for older people and those at risk of developing complications.

"This year, young children will also be vaccinated to stop the spread of the virus to other family members, including brothers, sisters, grandparents and those who are at increased risk. This is the first step in an extension to a national flu vaccination programme which will see all 2-16 year olds vaccinated over the coming years."

Flu can lead to complications causing an increase in demand to see the GP. For some cases complications might result in admission to hospital or even intensive care.

Good hand hygiene measures help reduce the flu virus from spreading between people. This includes washing hands frequently with soap and water, regularly cleaning surfaces, using tissues to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and disposing used tissues in a bin as soon as possible.

Influenza is an acute viral infection of the respiratory tract. The virus spreads rapidly by large droplets, small particles in the air and by hand to mouth/eye contamination from an infected surface or respiratory secretions from an infected person. Unlike a cold, the symptoms of flu come on very quickly and include fever, chills, headache, aching muscles, cough and sore throat.

Flu is a virus and therefore antibiotics will not help. However you can protect yourself and your family by getting the flu vaccine. As the body takes seven to ten days to build up antibodies to protect you from similar viruses you might come into contact with, it is important to get vaccinated as soon as possible to ensure you are protected.

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