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Saturday, November 14, 2015

At risk people urged to get flu jab

THE Welsh Ambulance Service is urging people at risk of flu – especially those aged 65 and over – to get vaccinated early this winter.

Only two thirds (68%) of older people were vaccinated in Wales last year, and the Trust wants to see many more have their free vaccine as soon as possible.
 
Greg Lloyd, Head of Clinical Operations at the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “For the majority of people who catch flu it is unpleasant, but for some it can lead to chest infections, severe complications and even death.

“We see thousands of patients every year whose age or poor health means flu could have a serious impact on their lives, which is why it’s important for them to get protected as soon as possible.
 
“The vaccinations are safe, effective and help to protect not only yourself but those around you.”Public Health Wales’ annual Beat Flu immunisation programme is underway, and is targeting those most vulnerable to catching flu.

Vaccinations are free of charge via GPs for all those aged 65 and over, or ‘at risk’ because they have a long-term health problem, or they’re pregnant.
 
This year the NHS vaccine is also available free in many community pharmacies.
 
The flu campaign is being supported by Age Cymru, who are encouraging those eligible to have the vaccine and protect themselves and others from flu.
 
Angharad Phillips from Age Cymru said: “It is very important that people aged 65 or over, and others in ‘at risk’ groups, take up the opportunity to have the free annual flu vaccination because flu is a serious and potentially debilitating illness.
 
“People who care for an older or disabled person should also have the vaccination, to help protect themselves and the people they are looking after.
 
“If you are fit and healthy, you may only get mild symptoms if you catch flu. However if you are aged 65 or over or have a long-term health problem, you are more at risk of complications from flu and it can also make any existing health condition worse, and even lead to a hospital stay.
 
“Make sure you get the flu vaccination – it should be part of your annual routine if you are aged 65 or over or in an ‘at risk’ group.”
 
The Welsh Ambulance Service is also on a mission to protect as many of its staff as possible.
More than 400 staff and volunteers have been vaccinated since the start of October.
 
Among them is Chief Executive Tracy Myhill, who said: “Vaccinations are vital to protect staff, their families and patients, many of whom are vulnerable to flu.
 
“They also reduce sickness absence of staff, so that patients get the best level of care during the busy winter period.

“Even if the flu doesn't kill you, it could kill someone you pass it on to. It’s so important that staff choose to get vaccinated, and we’re really pleased with the uptake so far.”
 
In previous years, staff were encouraged to visit a flu clinic or their GP for vaccination.
 
They can still visit a clinic or their GP if they prefer, or if it is more convenient.

The Trust is reminding the public that its NHS Direct Wales service is available 24/7 for information and advice on beating winter bugs.

Take part in the Flu Quiz to test your knowledge of the virus, or answer questions about your symptoms on the Cold and Flu Symptom Checker to get tailored advice on the best course of action.

Alternatively, call NHS Direct Wales 0845 46 47 to speak to a nurse adviser.
 

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