Public Health England urges residents to take up free flu vaccine

Cheshire West and Chester Council launched ‘Stay Well This Winter’ initiative

Public Health England and the NHS’s joint “Stay Well This Winter” campaign launches today in Cheshire West and Chester, with the national flu vaccination programme now available to all eligible people.

The campaign will help the most vulnerable people in the borough prepare for winter and avoid having to visit hospital due to common winter illnesses.

People in Cheshire West and Chester who are the most vulnerable to flu are being urged by th elocal council to get their free flu vaccination, ahead of the winter period when the virus is most common.

The programme launches as the chief medical officer warned that flu, and complications associated with it, cause around 8,000 deaths on average each year in England.

This year’s campaign aims to continue to increase uptake of the flu vaccination which is offered to those who are at increased risk from the effects of flu.

These include: children aged 2-8, people aged 65 and over, pregnant women and those with long term health conditions.

Cllr Louise Gittins said: “We need to keep our residents well this winter, reduce the number of hospital admissions as well as the number of deaths and that’s why it is so important that all residents eligible to receive the free flu vaccination get immunised.”

She added: “Eligible residents can contact their local GP or pharmacy to get the free flu vaccine.

“If you are not eligible for a free flu vaccination, there are many pharmacies now offering a private vaccination service at a small fee.

“By getting the flu vaccine, you not only reduce the risk of getting the flu yourself, you will also help protect your family and friends.”

People with respiratory diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or asthma are seven times more likely to die if they catch flu, and people with cardiovascular problems such as chronic heart disease or angina, or people who’ve had a stroke, are 11 times more likely compared to those who don’t.

The risk is far worse for those with chronic liver disease, who are 48 times more likely to die if they get flu.

Another way of protecting vulnerable adults is to vaccinate children, who are ‘super-spreaders’ of the virus.

Last year’s flu vaccination programme reduced the risk of flu in children who received the vaccine by 65% and for healthy children aged 2-8 in Cheshire West and Chester the flu vaccine is given in the form of a nasal spray, administered by a health professional.

Professor Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer, said: “Flu kills and we could save thousands of lives if everyone eligible got their free jab.

“With more people eligible than ever before and the vaccine available in more locations, people should protect themselves and those around them against this potentially deadly virus. Taking a few minutes to get the jab could save your life this winter.”

To find out if you are eligible or to get your vaccine, please contact your GP, pharmacist or midwife for more information.

You can also visit nhs.uk/staywell for details on how to help you and your family to stay well this winter.

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