Councillor Patricia Stallard, Executive Member for Health and Public Health, explains: “For most healthy people, flu is an unpleasant but short-lived illness. However, people who catch flu pass it on to on average, two people - putting our most vulnerable at an increased risk. It is important that these vulnerable groups are protected, and I would encourage those who are eligible, to take up the free flu vaccine.”
The NHS offers the flu vaccine free of charge to those individuals most at risk from catching flu and developing serious complications. This includes anyone who is the main carer for an elderly or disabled person at home, pregnant women, the over 65s and others with certain existing health condition such as diabetes and asthma.
Hampshire County Council is also again providing free flu vaccines to its frontline health and social care staff who work with elderly or vulnerable groups. This helps those in the county’s communities who are most at risk, to stay well this winter, as well as the staff who support them.
Children can also spread flu to others in the community. Extending flu vaccinations to children not only protects them but will also help to reduce the spread of flu within families and the wider community. Therefore, this year, the nasal vaccine is being offered to children aged 2-4 years, those in Hampshire school years 1, 2 and 3, as well as those with a long-term health condition.
The vaccine is reviewed annually to match the main flu viruses expected. There is generally a good match between the vaccine and the flu virus circulating – making it very effective. Also, having the flu vaccine does not give you flu, despite popular belief.
In addition to the flu vaccination, everyone can reduce their risk of getting flu or passing it to others through good hygiene. Using tissues when coughing or sneezing, putting used tissues in the bin and washing hands regularly, all stops infection spreading. It sounds obvious, but taking these small actions can make a big difference. If you have flu, stay off work or school until you are feeling better, to avoid spreading the infection.