Wakefield councillors encourage ‘at risk groups’ to get flu vaccine
Wakefield councillors have volunteered to have a flu jab - to encourage those at risk from the virus to ensure they are protected.
Flu is a very unpleasant disease and most healthy people will take a week to recover from it. But, for some, the disease can increase the risk of developing more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia, or can make existing conditions worse. In the worst cases, flu can result in a stay in hospital, or even death.
Councillors agreed to have a flu jab to help raise awareness that certain groups of adults and children in the district are eligible for the vaccination on the NHS.
Cllr Pat Garbutt, Cabinet Member for Adults and Health at Wakefield Council, said: "As a group of councillors we are supporting this important NHS campaign.
"We want to raise awareness so that people that are most vulnerable to the effects of the flu know that going and having the vaccine at their GP surgery will help keep them well this winter."
The people who are at particular risk if they catch flu and can have a free vaccine are:
• Older people, aged over 65
• All children aged two, three and four years old, plus school-aged children in reception class and school years one, two, three, and four
• Pregnant women
• Those with underlying disease, particularly heart disease, asthma and COPD
• Those seriously overweight (BMI of 40 and above)
• Those whose immune system isn't working properly
• Those living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility
• Those caring for elderly or disabled people.
Seventy one per cent of over 65s in Wakefield had their flu jab last year, but just 49% in the younger at-risk groups got their free jab.
Dr Andrew Furber, Director of Public Health for Wakefield Council, said: "Seasonal flu is highly contagious and easily preventable with a quick vaccine. It's a common misconception that it is only older people who suffer the most when they get flu. Many children and adults under the age of 65 are putting themselves at just as much risk to the effects of the virus. Those who are at an increased risk, or those who care for someone vulnerable, are encouraged to make an appointment with their GP practice or visit their local community pharmacy as soon as possible."
Dr Phil Earnshaw, Chair of NHS Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: "To make sure you get the best protection, it is best to have the flu vaccination as soon as possible, before any outbreaks of flu are reported.
"Even if you were vaccinated last year, you should be again this season as strains of flu vary from year to year".
For further advice and information about the flu vaccination, people are advised to speak to their GP, practice nurse or pharmacist, or read Public Health England's flu vaccination leaflet www.gov.uk/government/publications/flu-vaccination-who-should-have-it-this-winter-and-why