THE ANNUAL national campaign to encourage people in eligible groups across Wales to have a flu vaccination and protect themselves from the illness is being launched today (Oct 10).
‘Beat Flu’ aims to encourage the people who need it most to get protection each year against flu, a potentially dangerous disease. This includes everyone aged 65 and over, people with certain chronic long term health conditions and pregnant women.
Carers, volunteers providing planned emergency first aid and Community First Responders, are also entitled to the vaccine, which is delivered as a small injection in the arm.
Frontline health and social care workers should have the vaccine as part of their occupational health care, to protect themselves and those they care for.
The vaccine programme will be extended this year for children and those between the ages of two and seven will be eligible. The vaccine for children is a simple nasal spray with children aged 2 and 3 receiving it at their GP practice while those in reception class and school years 1, 2 and 3 will receive the nasal spray at school.
Director of Public Health for Hywel Dda University Health Board, Teresa Owen, is encouraging all those who are eligible to have the flu jab: “We’re actively supporting the Beat Flu campaign to protect our local communities across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.
“It is very important to have the vaccine, so if you are aged 65 years or older, you are pregnant, or you have a health condition that puts you at risk of influenza complications such as diabetes, heart disease or chronic respiratory disease, please take up this offer of a free vaccination.”
Minister for Social Services and Public Health, Rebecca Evans, who is launching the Beat Flu campaign today, said it’s vital that those most at risk of flu and its complications have the free vaccine.
Rebecca Evans, has encouraged others to join her and pledge to beat flu. The Minister said: “Flu can be a life-threatening illness for people who are at risk because of their age, because they have an underlying health problem or because they are pregnant. Sadly, it kills people in Wales every year.
“People can also pledge to Beat Flu by reminding eligible relatives and friends to get their flu vaccine this autumn. We run this programme every year to make sure people don’t fall seriously ill with flu, especially as it can be prevented so quickly and simply – so make sure you get protected early.”
Health and social care workers are also encouraged to get a flu vaccine as it is the best way to prevent spreading disease, and their employers should support them in this
Each year the flu vaccine is changed to match circulating strains of the flu virus, this is to give best protection. Most NHS flu vaccines are given in GP surgeries, but it is also available in some community pharmacies across Wales.
The campaign is led by Public Health Wales and will be active from now until December.
Influenza is a respiratory illness caused by a virus that affects the lungs and airways. Symptoms generally come on suddenly, and can include fever, chills, headache, cough, body aches and fatigue.
The flu virus is spread via droplets which are sprayed into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Direct contact with contaminated hands or surfaces can also spread infection. It can spread rapidly, especially in closed communities such as hospitals, residential homes and schools.