Read all about it – The Flu Story
Autumn is upon us and we have all felt the sudden drop in temperature, so we know winter will soon be here. The NHS is well advanced in its preparations for winter. However, we are long overdue a bad flu epidemic in this country and we know that in Australia the flu season has been particularly bad this year.
Whilst it is not certain, it is very likely that we, in the northern hemisphere, will suffer in the same way as the Australians when our winter begins. Your GP surgery will already have stocks of flu vaccine and will have begun to immunise ‘at risk’ patients. It is important that anyone over the age of 65 or with a chronic illness should attend their GP for a flu jab. In some surgeries GPs will use the opportunity to check for other common medical conditions at the same time.
Some serious conditions are regularly found at the time of a flu jab, an example of this being a heart condition called atrial fibrillation which is one of the most common causes of a stroke. Flu is unpleasant, but most healthy people will get over it within a week or two. However, for the at risk population it can be very serious and cause major complications or death. The at risk population includes those with weakened immune systems, neurological disorders, liver disease, lung or kidney disease, heart problems, diabetes and, in particular, pregnant women. Children are also more likely to be affected so we have extended the age range that we offer free immunisations to in the UK.
In the Autumn of 2017/18 the vaccine will be available free on the NHS for the following groups: The over 65s; are people with long-term conditions and pregnant women. It will also be offered as a nasal spray for children aged four to eight. Vaccination remains the best way to protect yourself against flu this winter. If you have the flu jab you are less likely to contract flu and to pass it on to elderly relatives or to your family.
The flu virus changes every year so the flu vaccine also changes every year in order to fight the latest strain of flu. That is why everyone who is at risk requires a flu jab every year. Remember flu is serious and we may be in line for an epidemic this year. You need to protect yourself and your relatives from flu, and the more people who are immunised the lower the pressures will be on our health services this coming winter