The annual fight against flu is underway and people in Reading are encouraged to get a vaccination against the virus.
This is part of a major drive to help people stay well this winter by North and West Reading Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), South Reading CCG, and Reading Borough Council, who will be issuing tips and advice to ensure people, especially at risk groups, understand the complications of flu and the consequences of not getting their flu jab.
Parents with children, aged two to six, are also urged to ensure their child is vaccinated. This year the programme is being extended to children in years 1 and 2. For the first time, all our youngest primary school children will be eligible to receive the free nasal spray vaccine, making this the largest school-based vaccination programme in England involving children in 17,000 schools nationally.
As in previous years, the adult flu vaccine will also be offered for free to those in groups at particular risk of infection and complications from flu. The groups being offered the adult flu vaccine are:
- Pregnant women
- Those aged 65 or over
- Those aged under 65 with long-term conditions
Dr Andy Ciecierski, Clinical Chair for North and West Reading CCG and GP at Emmer Green Surgery said: “People should not underestimate the effects of seasonal flu; it is not the same as getting a cold. It can seriously affect your health and the risks of developing complications are greater if you have certain medical conditions.
“Getting the vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from catching flu and I would urge everyone who is offered the vaccine free on the NHS to get vaccinated.”
“If you are in any of the ‘at risk’ groups, my advice is to visit your GP and get the free vaccination as soon as possible. This is the best form of protection for you and your family. “Seasonal flu can be a serious, life threatening illness. We must make sure that the people who are at greatest risk are fully protected.”
Graeme Hoskin, Lead Member for Health in Reading, said: “Don’t put off getting the flu vaccination; if you’re eligible get it now. It’s free because you need it.
“If you are over 65, have a long-term health condition or you are pregnant, you are at greater risk of severe complications if you catch flu. If you are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person, you may also qualify for a free vaccination.
“The nasal spray vaccination is also a quick, painless and effective way for children aged 2-4, and in school years 1 and 2, to be protected from flu without the need for injections. I urge parents of young people to take up the vaccine for their children as soon as possible.”
As well as protecting against flu, the NHS Stay Well This Winter campaign will urge people over 65 or those with long-term health conditions, such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease or respiratory illness, to prepare for winter with advice on how to ward off common illnesses.
The NHS ‘Stay Well This Winter’ campaign urges the public to:
- Make sure you get your flu jab if eligible.
- Keep yourself warm - heat your home to least 18 degrees C or (65F) if you can.
- If you start to feel unwell, even if it’s just a cough or a cold, then get help from your pharmacist quickly before it gets more serious.
- Make sure you get your prescription medicines before pharmacies close on Christmas Eve.
- Always take your prescribed medicines as directed.
- Look out for other people who may need a bit of extra help over winter.
Dr Ciecierski continued: “In colder weather, keeping yourself warm is essential to staying healthy, especially for the very young, older people or those with a chronic illness. There are a range of health problems associated with cold housing and winter weather, but in particular, a cold indoor or outdoor environment can make heart and respiratory problems worse, and can be fatal.”
(Dr Ciecierski having his flu jab)
Note to editors
- A video of Dr Ciecierski explaining the importance of getting the flu jab, for at-risk and eligible groups, is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnBxlRtkxeE&feature=youtu.be
- Dr Ciecierski is available for interviews. To arrange please contact Victoria Brandon or mobile 07468 709197.
- Clinical commissioning groups are responsible for planning, designing and paying for NHS services. This includes planned and emergency hospital care, rehabilitation, most community services and mental health and learning disability services. Working with NHS England, this now includes planning GP services.