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Vaccine recommended for vulnerable
PEOPLE at risk of catching the flu are being urged to protect themselves this winter.
Councillor Liz Fairhurst, Hampshire County Council’s lead on public health, is backing the national flu jab campaign, and is urging those eligible for the vaccine against the virus, which is spread by coughs and sneezes, to have it.
Anyone over the age of 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 have the vaccination. Full-time carers or anyone who is ill, elderly or disabled is also eligible for the free vaccine.
This year, a nasal spray is being offered to healthy two and three-year-old children, who have been found to be “spreaders” of the flu virus in a new study published by Public Health England and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical medicine.
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.
Cllr Fairhurst, 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 two to 16-year-olds vaccinated over the coming years.”
Flu can lead to complications causing an increase in demand to see the GP, and in some cases might result in admission to hospital or even intensive care.
Good hand hygiene measures help to 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 of used tissues in a bin as soon as possible.
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.
For more information about getting yourself or your child vaccinated, contact your GP surgery.
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