The seasonal jab that can beat the bugs

PEOPLE in Scarborough are being encouraged to beat the bugs this winter by coming forward for their seasonal flu jab.

Those who are considered most “at risk” may have already been contacted about the vaccine by their GP practice.

You can get a free flu jab from your GP if you:

l are 65 or over

l have a serious medical condition (such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, multiple sclerosis, serious kidney and liver disease, or chronic respiratory disease)

l are the main carer for an elderly or disabled family member whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill

l are pregnant (this now includes all pregnant women at any stage of their pregnancy – a slight change to last year).

Dr Phil Kirby, Interim Director of Public Health at NHS North Yorkshire and York, said: “Our GP practices are inviting people who are deemed at risk to come forward to receive their seasonal flu jabs.

“For most people, flu is not a serious illness. The body normally fights off the infection without medical treatment and symptoms usually clear up in a week with plenty of liquids and bed rest.

“Some people are more at risk from flu and need the vaccine because they are not able to fight off flu as easily as others. It can often result in serious complications, hospital treatments or worse. This can be prevented by having the vaccine.

“Flu vaccines are generally very safe. The most common reaction to the jab is a sore arm, or you may feel hot for a day or two afterwards. This year’s flu jabs have been tested and approved for use across the UK and in Europe. The jab cannot give you flu because it doesn’t contain any active viruses.

“I would encourage all those eligible for a free vaccine to make sure they get it.”

The trust’s medical director Dr David Geddes said: “Like people at risk from the effects of flu, it’s important for health professionals who have direct contact with patients to receive the seasonal flu vaccine as well.

“As a GP, I need to protect any patients I come into contact with from a potentially lethal dose of the flu. By getting immunised, I’m also protecting my family and friends from exposure to flu.

“There is also less chance I’ll get ill during the winter which is good news for my colleagues at the practice!”

This year all pregnant women are being offered a seasonal flu vaccination at any stage of pregnancy. Last year, only women in the second and third stages (trimesters) of pregnancy were offered the vaccine.

Dr Kirby adds: “We would also encourage all pregnant women to make sure they get the jab. It is extremely important to protect yourself and your baby against all strains of flu.”

The British Heart Foundation is urging heart patients in Scarborough to get the flu jab.

People with heart disease are four times more likely to suffer a heart attack after developing an infection such as the flu.

Judy O’Sullivan, the charity’s senior cardiac nurse, said: “Having the jab more than halves your risk of developing the virus, takes less than a minute and it’s free.

“Now is the time to think ahead and protect your heart health this winter.”

To find out more about the vaccine go to www.nhs.uk/conditions/flu-jab