Bolton’s NHS services are bracing themselves for the flu season but say ‘it’s not too late to vaccinate’.
Reports from Public Health England confirm that flu is now on the increase leading to GP visits and admissions to hospitals across the country albeit slightly later than last year’s surge in November and December.
Although they don’t expect the number of serious cases to be as high as 2017/18, they have warned that people risk hospitalisation if they don’t take the necessary precautions and get vaccinated.
Richard Catlin, Assistant Director of Infection Prevention and Control from Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Flu can be debilitating for someone who is otherwise of good health, but it can be especially dangerous for those who have long term health conditions, who are elderly or who are very young. We urge people to get vaccinated.”
Chairman of Bolton CCG, Wirin Bhatiani, added: “Last year the flu season hit us early and we had unprecedented numbers of people who were seriously ill. We are hoping that this season is not as bad but we still need people to look after themselves and others by having the vaccine.
“Figures released before Christmas showed we were not quite hitting the expected markers for this time of year – there are still people who are classed as ‘at risk’ who have not taken up their free flu jab or nasal spray.”
“I cannot stress enough the importance of protection. The flu vaccine is the best protection there is against the virus and it does not give you flu, contrary to some people’s perception!”
People with existing long term health conditions, the over 65s and pregnant women are in the ‘at risk’ groups and eligible for a free flu jab via their GP practice or local pharmacy.
Children from Reception to Year 5 can receive a free nasal spray via their school, and anyone who has missed the roll-out will be invited to a separate session in the next few weeks.
Youngsters aged 2 and 3 can also have the free nasal spray and should have been invited to an appointment at their GP practice.
Anyone else can enquire about the flu jab at their local pharmacy. Prices range from £7-£13 for those who are not eligible for a free one.
If you are suffering from flu-like symptoms, the advice is to stay at home, keep warm and get plenty of rest. Drink plenty of water and take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower temperature and treat aches and pains.
You should start to feel better after a week without the need to see a GP. However, if you have concerns please don’t attend your GP practice as this could pass the virus on to others. Always call first for advice.