The annual flu immunisation programme in Wales is now underway in time for the coming flu season – and those in ‘at risk’ groups are being urged by authorities to take up their free vaccination as soon as possible.
Last year, only half (51.1%) of people categorised as ‘at risk’ protected themselves against what can be a deadly virus, which can and does kill every year. People particularly ‘at risk’ of flu and its complications are given the vaccine at no cost: it takes a minute, lasts a year, but could save your life.
People in ‘at risk’ groups – including those aged 65 or over, pregnant women and those with certain long term health conditions – are urged to protect themselves as early as possible and before flu starts circulating widely. Health and social care staff should ask their employers about getting the vaccine.
Parents of children aged 2, 3 or 4, and those in school Year 7, are also being urged to have their child vaccinated for free – in the form of a nasal spray.
Health officials warn that even if you had the vaccine last year, the flu virus changes every year so you must have it again now in order to be protected.
Dr Richard Roberts, Head of the Vaccine Preventable Diseases Programme at Public Health Wales, explains why people in ‘at risk’ groups must not delay and make an appointment with their doctor today: “Flu is a serious illness caused by a virus that affects the lungs and airways. Symptoms generally come on suddenly, and can include fever, chills, headache, cough, muscle aches and fatigue. For people with underlying health conditions, flu can even be deadly.
“Flu cannot be treated, but it can be prevented by having the vaccine. Make sure you don’t put yourself at risk by missing this potentially life-saving opportunity.”
Every year flu circulates but every year thousands of people who are at a heightened risk of serious side effects fail to protect themselves for free. Join the pledge to beat flu, and protect yourself now.
You can find out more by visiting www.beatflu.org.uk or www.curwchffliw.org.uk, or finding them on twitter and facebook.