Up to 30,000 GP consultations in the over 65s could be prevented this winter thanks to a more effective flu vaccine being offered.
That’s the message from West Sussex County Council in a bid to keep the viral infection at bay.
Preventing the several thousand GP consultations means reducing the number of hospital admissions by more than 2,000 and preventing more than 700 hospital deaths from flu in England.
The new vaccine is expected to significantly boost effectiveness by improving the body’s immune response.
Typically, older adults’ bodies do not respond as well to the flu vaccine due to their naturally weaker immune systems.
Older adults are also more likely to suffer complications from flu.
As well as those over the age of 65, the flu vaccine is also available free to those in groups at particular risk of infection and complications, including: children aged 2 to 3, and those in the school vaccination programme, pregnant women, adults and children with underlying health conditions (especially heart and respiratory disease) and carers.
Colds are a different virus-they are less serious and usually start gradually with a stuffy or runny nose, and a sore throat.
A bout of flu can be much worse than a heavy cold.
Flu symptoms come on very quickly and can include:
- a sudden fever – a temperature of 38C or above
- aching body
- feeling tired or exhausted
- dry, chesty cough
- sore throat
- difficulty sleeping
- loss of appetite
- diarrhoea or tummy pain
- nausea and being sick
Symptoms are similar for children, but they can also get pain in the ear and appear less active.
The council says that healthy individuals usually recover within seven days, but for some the disease can lead to hospitalisation.
It adds that if you are eligible for the free vaccine, this is the best protection against the flu.
Hygiene is also an important way to avoid catching the flu and preventing its spread.
Carry tissues and use them to catch coughs or sneezes, bin the used tissues as soon as possible and then wash your hands to destroy the germs.
West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, Amanda Jupp said: “With the cold winter months almost upon us I would urge everyone entitled to the free flu jab to take advantage of it. Although you may not consider yourself at risk of catching flu I would still encourage you to get the free vaccination if you’re eligible.
“Vaccination is the most effective protection we have against an unpredictable virus and the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from catching flu.”
If you are eligible for your free flu jab, please contact your local GP surgery or participating pharmacy to get more information and book yourself an appointment.
You can find out if you are eligible and more information on seasonal flu at: www.westsussexwellbeing.org.uk/fight-flu