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Health Board urges eligible groups to get flu vaccinaton

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THE ANNUAL Hywel Dda programme to encourage people in eligible groups across mid and west Wales to have a vaccination to protect themselves from influenza (flu), a virus that can cause serious illness, has been launched.

This year Hywel Dda has developed a localised campaign aimed at bringing together every resident in mid and west Wales to tackle this problem as one collective community.

The superhero based theme is a call to action urging residents to become a ‘superprotector’ by getting vaccinated which will ultimately help protect themselves, patients, their families, colleagues and neighbours from catching flu.

The theme will be introduced across Hywel Dda sites using visuals and messaging that have been developed to be eye-catching, memorable and mean something to those that that view the messages with a hope that they are encouraged to make the effort to receive their flu vaccination.

A spokesperson said: “We have particular challenges around flu vaccination uptake in the Hywel Dda region so whilst the campaign calls on everyone to get vaccinated it also focuses specifically groups that are eligible for a free vaccination which include NHS staff, pregnant women, people with certain chronic long-term health conditions, and everyone aged 65 and over. We are also encouraging everyone, whether eligible for a free NHS vaccine or not, to have the vaccination to help prevent the spread of flu.”

Children aged two to ten-years-old are also eligible as the vaccine programme for children is again being extended this year. The vaccine for adults is a small injection, but for children it is a simple nasal spray. Children aged between two and three years can receive the nasal vaccine at their GP surgery while those in reception class and every primary school can get it at school.

Ros Jervis, Director of Public Health for Hywel Dda University Health Board, who launched the today, reiterated it is vital that those most at risk take advantage of the free vaccine: “Influenza can be a life-threatening illness for people who are at risk due to their age, an underlying health problem, or because they are pregnant. Sadly, influenza kills people in Wales every year.

“Influenza spreads very easily. Extending the programme to more children this year will help protect them from catching flu, and will also prevent them spreading it to others in the community who may be very vulnerable. I particularly call on the parents of 2-3 year old children to get their children vaccinated with the simple nasal spray this year as the statistics show as few as six 2-3 year old children vaccinated prevents one case of flu – this age group has the best opportunity over all others to help stop the spread of flu – they are our ultimate “superprotectors”.

“People can be seriously ill with influenza, and a flu vaccination is the best way to protect against it, so I call on each and every person in the Hywel Dda region including all our own staff to join us in helping prevent the spread of this virus by getting vaccinated and help make our local community a safer place to live this winter.”

While most NHS flu vaccines are given in GP surgeries, free vaccination is also available for some eligible adults in many community pharmacies across Wales.

Carers, volunteers providing planned emergency first aid, Community First Responders, and, for the first time this year, people working in care homes that have regular client contact are also entitled to the vaccine.

It’s also recommended that frontline health and social care workers have the free vaccine to protect themselves and those they care for. They can talk to their occupational health department or employer about where and when they can get their vaccine.

Important information about influenza and the vaccine

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 influenza 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.

The influenza viruses that circulate and cause illness each winter change and therefore each year the flu vaccine is changed to try and match the circulating strains, in order to give best protection.

Find out more by visiting www.beatflu.org or www.curwchffliw.org or finding Beat Flu or Curwch Ffliw on Twitter and Facebook.

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Police investigate after child dies in west Wales caravan fire

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DYFED POWYS POLICE is investigating the circumstances around a fire at a caravan in Ceredigion in which a child died.

Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Cockwell said: “We received a call at 5.35am today (Sunday, January 19), reporting a fire at a caravan at Ffair Rhos.

“Enquiries so far lead us to believe that three people were inside the caravan at the time the fire broke out. These were a father and two children – a four-year-old, and a little boy who we believe to have been aged three.

“While the father and the eldest child were able to get out of the caravan, the younger of the siblings was tragically found deceased inside.

“Our thoughts are with his family at this extremely difficult and traumatic time, and specialist officers have been put in place to support them.

“The father is currently in a stable condition in hospital, while the four-year-old is critical but stable. Both suffered burns.

“The Criminal Investigation Department is investigating the cause of the fire, and a major incident room has been set up at Aberystwyth Police Station.

“We are also working closely with Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, who were in attendance when our officers arrived. We would like to thank our colleagues at the fire service for their professionalism in dealing with what turned out to be a highly traumatic incident.

“We would like to speak to anyone who was in the Ffair Rhos area around the time of the fire, who might have information that could help our investigation.

“This was a tragic incident, and we will be doing all we can to find answers for the family, whose world will have been torn apart by this morning’s events.”

If you have any information that could help officers, call the Criminal Investigation Department on 101, using Storm reference 39 of January 19.

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Police issue warning to community over ‘fake beggars’

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POLICE in Aberystwyth are warning the community about a fraudulent group who have been travelling to the area to beg.

Many residents and visitors have donated cash believing members of the group are genuinely in need.

PC Phil Woodland: “I’m proud to work in a town where people want to help each other, but in this case, their kindness is being exploited.

“We’ve tried working with the group to ensure they have the support they need, and through this effort it’s become clear they are not genuinely homeless. We are using legal powers where possible and necessary to deal with the issue.

“Giving money to someone who is begging is a personal choice, however, on this occasion the community is being misled. At the end of the day, these people are returning to their homes – they are essentially scamming people.”

Those involved are described as men and women of Romanian descent, aged between 30 and 50. Police say they visit Aberystwyth on the train or bus, and return home to Cardiff at the end of the day.

The situation is being monitored by the neighbourhood policing team, and anyone with information is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police online: http://bit.ly/dppReportOnline, by email: contactcentre@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

If you are concerned about someone you believe is sleeping rough, StreetLink exists to help connect them with the local services that can provide support: https://www.streetlink.org.uk/

Shelter Cymru offers practical advice on how to help someone who is begging, or you believe is homeless, on their website: https://sheltercymru.org.uk/7-ways/

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RNLI in Wales urges people to stay safe as Storm Brendan hits

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The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is urging people to stay safe near the Welsh coast as severe weather could make our seas and coastlines particularly dangerous.

Lifesaving charity, the RNLI, is encouraging people to exercise extreme caution if visiting the shoreline, especially along exposed cliffs, seafronts and piers.

The expected strong winds and severe gales pose a severe safety risk to those visiting the coast.

Named Storm Brendan by Met Eireann, it swept eastwards across Ireland before making its way through the rest of the UK this morning with yellow wind warning in place for most of the Welsh coast.

Chris Cousens, RNLI Regional Water Safety Lead for Wales said:

‘This rough weather could make visiting parts of the Welsh coastline treacherous and bring very dangerous sea conditions.

‘Sadly, around 150 people lose their lives on British and Irish coasts each year and over half of these people didn’t plan on ever entering the water. Slips, trips and falls can be a major factor in these kinds of incidents.’

If you see someone else in danger in the water, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. If you have something that floats that they can hold on to, throw it to them. Don’t go in the water yourself – too many people drown trying to save others.

The charity, which provides a search and rescue service around the UK and Ireland, is facing its own Perfect Storm as demand for its services has increased but it is facing a shortfall in funds. This past year, the RNLI has been busier than ever, and stormy conditions can mean additional call outs for the already extremely busy volunteer crews. Whatever the weather, RNLI volunteers will still be on call to rescue those at difficulty at sea.

The RNLI’s major new fundraising appeal, The Perfect Storm, which aims to help the charity get back to living within its means, is running throughout November and December. To find out more or to donate visit RNLI.org/ThePerfect Storm.

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