HEALTH & WELLBEING: Protect yourself and your loved ones from flu

AS the weather starts to get colder and we edge closer to winter, it’s time to remember to get your flu jab, according to NHS Rotherham CCG chief nurse Sue Cassin.

Flu is a highly infectious illness that spreads rapidly through the coughs and sneezes of people who are carrying the virus and a bout is more serious than a heavy cold.

Symptoms of flu include fever, chills, extreme tiredness, headaches, and aches and pains in the joints and muscles.

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Sue said: “When you’ve had flu you normally return to your usual health within two to seven days and will not need to be treated by a doctor."

“There is no medication they can give you and going to see your GP can spread the virus to other people."

“The most important message now is that you need to protect yourself and the people you look after from being very ill from flu and this means having the flu jab."

“I’m booked in for mine — it only takes a matter of minutes.”

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The best time to have your flu vaccine is from the beginning of October to the end of November, but people can have it later.

Sue said: “The flu vaccine is still the best protection we have against this virus, which can cause unpleasant illness plus severe side effects.”

Anyone can get flu, but it can be more serious for certain people such as people aged 65 or over; people aged six to 65 who have a long-term medical condition such as diabetes, asthma, heart, liver or kidney disease, weakened immune system and chronic neurological disorders; pregnant women; and children aged from two to nine years.

The flu vaccine for children is a nasal spray so they don’t need to worry about having a jab.

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To help prevent the development of serious complications from flu the flu vaccine is free from GPs to people in these groups — the main carer for an elderly or disabled person, those who work in a frontline health and social care environment, or those who live in a long stay care facility.

Sue said: “It is important that you have a flu vaccine every year, because the flu virus is very variable and changes over time. Each year there are different strains around, and a new vaccine is developed to deal with them.

“If you are not in one of the at risk groups you can get a flu vaccine from some pharmacies. It will cost around £10 to £15.”

Winter is the busiest period of the year for the NHS, and flu can put extra pressure on the health services.

Three ways to stop flu this winter are:

* Get the vaccination;

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* Wash your hands regularly, particularly after sneezing or coughing;

* If you have flu, stay away from work until you are better to prevent you passing it on to others.

For more information about the flu vaccine talk to your GP, practice nurse or pharmacist.

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