A DEADLY flu virus could be on its way warn health chiefs in South Warwickshire.
And they are urging people to take action now after more than 28,000 patients in the area put their health at risk last winter by not having their flu jab – as revealed by NHS figures.
With levels of flu in Australia – often a good predictor for flu in England – at their highest for years, NHS South Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is calling on all eligible patients to get vaccinated before the virus starts circulating.
Statistics from Public Health England reveal more than 13,000 adults over the age of 65, and the same number under 65, who are at risk, and more than 1,300 pregnant women in South Warwickshire all failed to have their free flu vaccination between September 2018 and the end of February this year.
Flu is highly contagious and for some people can lead to serious and sometimes life-threatening consequences. Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to severe complications from the virus.
Studies have proven the vaccine will help prevent flu in patients and reduce the length and strength of flu if caught. Flu viruses change every year so people need to update their vaccination each year to match the new virus.
Dr David Spraggett, chair of NHS South Warwickshire CCG, said: “This particularly nasty strain of flu in Australia shows just how severe flu can be and it’s vital that all those who are eligible benefit from this life-saving vaccination.
“Last year thousands of people in South Warwickshire took unnecessary risks with their lives by not taking the steps to protect themselves. Flu is a serious, sometimes even life-threatening illness, which people can catch easily when it is circulating.
“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. For these people, flu can often result in more serious complications which require hospital treatment. It can even be fatal in some cases. So, it’s important that everyone who is eligible for the flu vaccine contacts their local GP practice so they can be protected as soon as possible.
“Many people worry that the vaccine can give them the flu, but this isn’t possible as there is no live influenza virus in the vaccine. There is no need for anyone to be concerned about giving the vaccine to their children, or if they are pregnant, the vaccine affecting their baby.”
The injected flu vaccine is offered free of charge on the NHS to people at risk.
People who should have the vaccine are those 65 and over, those pregnant, those with certain medical conditions, those who live in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility, receive a carer’s allowance or are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if taken ill.