Don’t get crook sport – have your flu jab

People in vulnerable groups can take action now if they want to avoid this year’s least popular Aussie import – the flu.

In fairness to our Australian cousins, so-called “Aussie flu” is just one of a number of flu strains circulating in England. And it isn’t even Australian. The A(H3N2) strain circulated in the UK last winter before heading down under, and has now returned.

But there is no doubt about the best flu protection – get a free jab if you are in any of the eligible groups. These are:

  • Children: children aged 2 and 3 on 31 August 2017 – that is, born between 1 September 2013 and 31 August 2015; children in reception class and school years 1, 2, 3 and 4; children aged six months to 17 with long-term health conditions such as asthma
  • Adults: anyone aged over 65; pregnant women; adults with long-term health conditions such as asthma or weakened immune systems.

Dr Lorna Clarson, local GP and Clinical Director for Partnerships and Engagement at North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent CCGs said: “We encourage anyone who is eligible to take up their offer of the flu vaccine – it is not too late.

“People suffering with flu-like symptoms should catch coughs or sneezes in tissues and bin them immediately, wash their hands regularly with soap and warm water and frequently clean regularly used surfaces to stop the spread of flu.  Avoid having unnecessary contact with other people if you or they have symptoms of flu.

“For most healthy people, recovering from flu can take roughly a week. However, for those that are more vulnerable, it can be more severe and it is important to be aware of this. “

Emyr Phillips,  Deputy Director for Infection Prevention & Sepsis at University Hospitals of North Midlands agreed: “Since the start of November 2017 we’ve had to admit 325 patient with flu.

“More than 100 of these are still inpatients at our hospitals, which gives you an indication of the problem. Over the past two weeks we’ve seen a step change in the number of people attending hospital with flu. We’re now admitting 20 new patients a day with flu and this places an incredible strain on services.

“My advice is that all those who are vulnerable to flu such as the elderly or the very young, should have the vaccine. More than 7,000 staff at UHNM and many more staff working in the community have had the vaccine to help protect our patients. As a community we all need to tackle Aussie flu together to keep our friends and family well this winter.”