Now that the summer holidays are a distant memory and the shorter days are rapidly approaching, North Yorkshire County Council is urging people to take up the offer of the NHS flu jab as soon as they can.
“Having the flu vaccine is very important, especially for older people, pregnant women and people with underlying health conditions, such as asthma and respiratory diseases,” said Dr Lincoln Sargeant, Director of Public Health for North Yorkshire.
“Flu isn’t something to be taken lightly – in England it causes around 8,000 deaths every year. It’s also very easy for people to pass flu on – about 77% of people carry flu without even knowing they have it, as they have none of the usual symptoms.
“This year we’re also making a special appeal to everyone working in frontline health and social care roles to make sure they get their free jab as soon as possible. Flu is caused by a virus and is highly contagious, so it spreads very quickly in places like residential homes and often has very serious consequences for both vulnerable residents, visitors and staff.’’
County Councillor Caroline Dickinson, Executive Member for Public Health, said: “Having the flu jab is the single best thing to do to prevent the spread of the virus, but there are also little things you can do to boost its success rate. This includes making sure you wash your hands thoroughly if you’ve had an attack of sneezing or coughing, and keeping away from friends, family and work colleagues as much as you can if you’re ill with the flu.
“It’s also good to remember that it’s a myth that getting the flu vaccine actually gives you flu – it doesn’t. It’s not possible to catch the flu from the vaccine and, apart from sometimes giving you an ache where you’ve had the injection, the side effects are usually mild or non-existent.”
People can get the flu vaccine from GP surgeries, chemists and large supermarkets. The vaccine is free to people working in health care services; anyone aged 65 and over or with an existing medical condition; people in long stay care homes; and pregnant women. Other people pay a nominal charge of around £10. There is also a school vaccination programme for children aged 2-9.