Thursday October 20 2016
People in Mid & West Wales, who are eligible, are being urged to protect themselves against flu this winter by having a free vaccination.
Public Health Wales has launched its annual campaign and Welsh UKIP Leader and AM Neil Hamilton has added his voice to the appeal after having the jab himself.
The free vaccine is being offered to those deemed at risk by Public Health Wales which includes people 65 or over, carers, pregnant women, those with long term illnesses and all children two and three years old on August 31 and those in primary school up the age of seven.
Mr Hamilton AM said: “A major immunisation programme is underway throughout Wales to offer flu vaccines to individuals most at risk of serious complications from flu, and my message to them is ‘beat flu before it beats you!’
“Last year in Wales less than half (47%) of those in at-risk groups under the age of 65 took up their free NHS vaccination, and we really need to significantly increase the numbers of people being vaccinated in order to prevent the spread of this largely preventable illness.
“It is really is vital that people take advantage of this free vaccine to protect themselves at catching or spreading flu which is a debilitating and potentially deadly illness.”
Dr Richard Roberts, Head of the Vaccine Preventable Disease Programme at Public Health Wales, said, “Flu vaccine is strongly recommended for everyone at higher risk of severe influenza, a group which includes those aged 65 or over, people who have long term health conditions, pregnant women as well as all two to seven year olds. Flu vaccination is available free for all these groups, and also for those who are unpaid carers.”
He added “Most people who catch influenza (or ‘the flu’) usually recover after 4-5 days of fever, headache, aching muscles and sore throat. But influenza can also be more serious and require hospital care. Last winter, as in most winters, there were many deaths from influenza.”
The flu virus is spread easily 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.
‘At risk’ groups include; all pregnant women, and individuals from 6 months of age with chronic respiratory disease, including moderate to severe asthma, chronic heart conditions including angina and heart failure, kidney disease, liver problems or neurological disorders (such as stroke and mini stroke) as well as anyone with diabetes. Morbidly obese adults are also recommended to have flu vaccine.