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Protect yourself against flu – get vaccinated
Wednesday 16th October, 2013

Protect yourself against flu – get vaccinated
Dr Kate Ardern - Wigan Council director of public health, with Dr Tim Dalton - chair NHS Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group, receiving his flu vcaccination from practice nurse Janet Cunliffe

Wigan Council’s director of public health is supporting the flu vaccination campaign being championed nationally by the chief medical officer, Public Health England and NHS England.

People being offered the flu vaccine - including those who are most at risk and all two and three year-olds (as of Sept 1st 2013) – are being encouraged to protect themselves from flu this winter by ensuring they get vaccinated against the virus.

For the first time, a nasal spray vaccine will be offered to healthy two and three year old children. This marks the first step in an extension to the national flu vaccination programme, which will eventually include yearly vaccination of all 2-16 year olds.

Wigan Council director of public health, Dr Kate Ardern, received her vaccination last week. She said: "While flu is an unpleasant illness for most people, it can pose a greater risk for some groups and become very serious. These groups include older people (aged 65 plus), people with a long standing illness such as heart disease, respiratory disease, liver disease, kidney disease, diabetes, etc. People with a weak immune system either due to disease or because they are on medication are also considered an at risk group, as are pregnant women.

“As a doctor and an asthmatic, I would urge anyone in the at risk groups, over the age of 65 years and anyone who works in health and social care to get vaccinated. You are taking an important step to protect your own health and that of others. I warmly welcome the new national nasal spray immunisation programme for young children, which is the first time we’ve been able to offer protection to all children in this age group.

"People in the ‘at risk’ categories will be invited for immunisation by their GP, however, if you do not receive an invite but believe you are in a risk group, do contact your GP. The flu vaccine used for the standard campaign is an 'inactivated virus'; it does not cause flu and most people have no or mild side effects."

A study published last week by PHE and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, found children are key “spreaders” of the flu virus. Young children aged two and three will be offered the nasal spray vaccine to protect them against flu, as their close contact with each other means they are more likely to transmit the virus to other more vulnerable groups – including infants and older people.

Almost 800 people nationally were admitted to intensive care with complications of flu last year and each winter hundreds of thousands of people see their GP and tens of thousands are hospitalised because of flu.

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