Public Health England and the NHS’s joint Stay Well This Winter campaign launches today in East Midlands with the national flu vaccination programme now available nationwide to all eligible people.
The Stay Well This Winter campaign will help the most vulnerable people in the East Midlands prepare for winter and avoid having to visit hospital due to common winter illnesses.
People in the East Midlands who are the most vulnerable to flu are being urged 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 has warned that flu, and complications associated with it, cause 8000 deaths on average a year in England.
This year’s campaign aims to continue to increase uptake of the flu vaccination. Last year, 42% of children aged 2-4 years and 62.4% in school year 1, 60.5% in school year 2 and 60.6% in school year 3 were vaccinated against flu in the East Midlands. In addition, the vaccine was also administered to 47.9% of people in at-risk groups and 71.9% of people aged 65 or older in the East Midlands.
The flu vaccination 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.
David Spence, Deputy Director for Health Protection, PHE East Midlands, said:
“For many people flu is an unpleasant illness but for the most vulnerable in society – small children, the elderly, those with long-term health problems and for pregnant women – it can be extremely dangerous.
“Getting the vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from catching flu and I would urge everyone who is offered the vaccine to take up the offer and get protected for the coming winter season.”
People with respiratory diseases like COPD, emphysema or asthma are seven times more likely to die if they catch flu, and people with cardiovascular problems like chronic heart disease or angina, or have 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%. For healthy children aged 2-8 in the East Midlands 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 get your vaccine or find out if you are eligible, contact your GP, pharmacist or midwife for more information. Visit the NHS Staywell website for more details on how to help you and your family to stay well this winter.