Defend yourself against flu this Winter

Posted on: 15 October 2015

Devon residents susceptible to the effects of flu are being reminded to get their annual vaccination to protect them against the illness this winter.

Flu can be a serious illness, particularly for those in the at risk groups, so it’s vital that people in the eligible groups and parents of young children take up the offer of the free flu vaccination, even if they feel healthy.

The effects of flu can be much more serious than people think. It’s highly infectious, and the symptoms of fever, chills, headache, aches and pains in joints and muscles, and extreme tiredness, can come on very quickly.

Vaccination is the best form of protection against the risk, and it is quick, easy and safe. The vaccine works by stimulating your immune system, so it can recognise and fight off the flu virus if you come into contact with it later.

Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing and Chairman of Devon’s Health and Wellbeing Board, Cllr Andrea Davis is supportive of the vaccine and has taken part in Devon County Council’s staff campaign which shows her protecting the front line. She said: “Flu can knock you out for a long period of time so I will be encouraging everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated, I have had mine for 2016 and now it’s business as usual for me. I’m proud to be a part of a campaign which shows how valued our work force is and hope to see a high take up.

“Devon County Council recognises the serious impact that flu can have on its staff, particularly those who work in front line social care, and has once again mounted an internal drive to encourage these staff to get their flu jabs.”

Sharon Price is Deputy Manager at New Treetops Short Breaks unit in Exeter has three important reasons for having the flu jab.

“I have already had my free flu jab for this year and will always take advantage of it while I can. I suffer from asthma, am a carer for a vulnerable person and also work with vulnerable adults.”

Sharon has also experienced swine flu a few years ago and passed it on to her husband. He is a dialysis patient and immune suppressed and due to the seriousness of the illness he was hospitalised.

The subject is still close to her heart and she is keen to see others follow suit and take up the free flu jab.

Sharon adds: “I have just been to see a colleague and we got talking about the flu jab. She has not had one this year and I was discussing with her the importance of having it.  She also works with vulnerable adults so I have encouraged her to find out more. I’m proof that spreading the word (and not the flu) can protect yourself and clients!”

Dr Virginia Pearson, Devon’s Director of Public Health, said: “If you have a long-term health condition, even one which is well managed, are pregnant, or aged 65 and over, catching flu could make you seriously ill and make complications like pneumonia more likely.

“If you’re pregnant, you should have the flu jab regardless of the stage of pregnancy you’ve reached. Pregnant women are more prone to complications from flu that can cause serious illness for both mother and baby.

“The flu vaccine for children is a nasal spray and is available each year on the NHS for two-, three- and four-year-olds plus children in school years one and two. Over time, as the programme rolls out, all children between the ages of two and 16 will be vaccinated against flu each year with the nasal spray.

“I would encourage anyone who is not sure if they are eligible, to contact their GP or visit NHS Choices for more information.”

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