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Keep your loved ones safe this winter by having a flu jab

People living in Morecambe Bay are being encouraged to keep their loved ones safe this winter by having their flu jab.

Patient Shahnaz Asghar and Dr Arun Thimmiah

Health experts say we can all give the flu to our friends and family members without even knowing it. A recent study in the Lancet medical journal reveals that up to 77 per cent of people with flu have no symptoms at all.

Flu is an extremely contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza A or B viruses. It is an unpredictable virus that can cause mild illness in most people but some people are more likely to develop potentially serious complications of flu such as bronchitis and pneumonia. These people are advised to have a flu vaccine each year.

However, Bay Health and Care Partners (BHCP) say there are lots of things you can do to manage your conditions and help us to help you stay well this winter.

BHCP includes University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT), Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group (MBCCG), Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust; GP Providers Alliance, Cumbria County Council, Lancashire County Council, North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) and Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT). All of the BHCP members are working together to support people’s health over the winter months.

For otherwise healthy people flu can be very unpleasant, however, most people will recover from flu within a week or two. The injected flu vaccine is offered free of charge on the NHS to people who are at risk. This is to help protect them against catching flu and developing serious complications.

You should have the flu vaccine if you fall into any of the below categories:

  • If you are 65 years of age or over
  • If you are pregnant
  • If you have certain medical conditions
  • If you are living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facilities
  • If you receive a carer’s allowance, or you are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill
  • If you are frontline health and social care worker (it is your employer’s responsibility to arrange and pay for this vaccine).

Dr Jim Hacking, a local GP in Morecambe Bay, said: “Although we are only just in autumn and winter seems far away, it is fast approaching so we are encouraging local people to have their flu jab in order to protect their loved ones and themselves.

“While flu can be a very unpleasant viral illness, it can also be very serious – especially for vulnerable groups or those already ill in hospital and undergoing treatment.

“If you do catch flu, we would, therefore, advise that you stay at home, get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids and use paracetamol or ibuprofen to control your temperature and treat aches and pains.”

Sue Smith, OBE, Deputy Chief Executive and Executive Chief Nurse at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT), said: “As a Trust, we have already starting vaccinating our frontline and support staff against flu and uptake so far has been very positive.

“No-one wants to feel unwell and we have a responsibility to ourselves, our loved ones and our patients to do what we can to stay fit and well in the winter months. Having the flu vaccination is just one of the ways we can do this.

“I’d like to remind all visitors, members of the public and staff that flu can spread rapidly in closed environments such as hospitals, schools and care homes as it is highly infectious. Any visitors, members of the public or UHMBT staff who may be feeling unwell, or may have been in contact with a person, with flu-like symptoms in recent days, should stay away from our hospitals.

“If you do fall into one of the groups that are at greater risk, please take up the opportunity and have your free flu jab through your GP practice, local pharmacy or employer if you work in the NHS.”

For more information on flu, visit the NHS website at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/flu/

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