CARYL JONES-PUGH, SENIOR PUBLIC HEALTH PRACTITIONER AT ABERTAWE BRO MORGANNWG PUBLIC HEALTH TEAM, JOINS WITH DR KIRSTIE TRUMAN, GP AT WEST CROSS MEDICAL CENTRE AND ST THOMAS SURGERY TO OFFER ADVICE AND GUIDANCE, ON HOW TO HELP PROTECT YOURSELF FROM THIS SEASONAL BUG.
Flu changes every year…make sure you and your family are protected
This year all children;
- aged two and three
- four year olds who are not in school and
- children in Reception Class and Years 1, 2 and 3 in Primary School
…will be offered the FREE flu vaccination
Flu can be very unpleasant for children. They have the same symptoms as adults – including fever, chills, aching muscles, headache, stuffy nose, dry cough and sore throat lasting up to a week. Some children develop a very high fever or complications of flu such as bronchitis, pneumonia and painful middle ear infection. They may need hospital treatment, and very occasionally a child may die from flu. For children with long-term health conditions such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease or lung disease, getting flu can be very serious as they are more at risk of developing serious complications.
Children are good at spreading flu, because they tend to sneeze everywhere and don’t use tissues properly or wash their hands. They also usually play in groups or spend time in a group in the classroom and infect-ions spread easily in these environments.
The children’s flu vaccination is given as a nasal spray. It is quick and painless.
The nasal spray flu vaccine will not only help to protect your child from getting flu, it also stops the disease spreading from them to their family, carers and the wider population.
WHO ELSE CAN HAVE THE FREE SEASONAL FLU VACCINATION?
As well as the groups of children listed previously, the flu vaccine is available FREE on the NHS for people at greater risk from the effects of flu; including:
- Those aged 65 or over
- Those with chronic medical conditions including heart or chest problems, asthma, kidney or liver disease, diabetes, neurological conditions, stroke (or mini stroke), or spleen problems
- People with lowered immunity due to either a medical condition or taking medication, in particular long term steroids or other immuno-suppresive drugs
- Those with a BMI of 40 or over
- Pregnant women
- People living in a nursing or residential home
- Community First Responders, and people working in voluntary organisations providing planned first aid, such as St John’s Ambulance
If you are not in any of the groups above you can obtain the vaccine from your GP or pharmacy for a cost of around £10.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS with Dr Truman
What is flu? Flu occurs every year, usually in the winter months. Some people think flu is just a bad cold, but it isn’t; flu is much worse than that. Symptoms start suddenly and can be severe – they usually include fever, chills, head-aches and aching muscles, and often a cough and sore throat.
Most people who are fit and well recover fully from flu, but for some people flu can cause serious illnesses that can lead to needing hospital treatment. Flu spreads easily and causes many deaths every winter.
The best way to protect yourself and your family from flu is to get the vaccine.
Is the flu vaccination safe? Yes, the flu vaccination is safe. Some people get mild side effects after the vaccination such as a slight temperature or aching muscles for a couple of days afterwards. Other reactions are rare, and flu vaccinations are very safe.
For those who have had the vaccination before and suffered an allergic reaction your GP can advise as to whether you should have it again.
Why do I have to have it every year? Flu is caused by viruses which can change each year, so new vaccines are produced to try and match them. For the best protection, the seasonal flu vaccination should be given every year. It takes approximately 2 weeks following vaccination to develop protection against flu so it is important to get vaccinated early and before flu starts to circulate.
Where can I get the vaccine? The flu vaccine is usually available from the end of September. Most adults can have their flu vaccine as an injection by arranging an appointment with their GP practice. The vaccine is also available in selected pharmacies across Wales.
The preferred vaccine for children is a nasal spray vaccine. Children aged two and three, four year olds who are not in school and children with increased risk of complications from flu can be vaccinated by making an appointment with their family GP practice.
Children in Reception Class and Years 1, 2 and 3 in Primary School will be offered the nasal spray vaccine at school. It is important that parents return the signed consent form sent home from school if they want their child to be vaccinated.