Council’s flu protection warning

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As winter approaches, it’s time for those at risk from flu to protect themselves and their loved ones.

Flu is a highly contagious infection that anyone can catch. While flu can be a short-lived illness for the majority of people who catch it, for some it can be much more serious.

Health leaders in St Helens are encouraging those who are at much greater risk of becoming seriously unwell if they catch flu, to get themselves protected by getting their free flu jab.

Those at greatest risk include people aged 65 and over, those who have a long term health condition, those with a weakened immune system, residents of long-stay care homes, carers and pregnant women.

Those eligible should contact their GP, local pharmacist or midwife to get their flu jab. The flu vaccine changes every year to fight the latest strains of flu, so even if you had a jab last year you need another one this year to be protected.

Building on the success of last year, children aged 2-3 are being offered a free nasal spray from their GP to protect them against flu and children in reception and school years one, two, three and four will be offered the nasal spray at school.

Sue Forster, St Helens Council’s Director of Public Health said: “I would urge everyone who is eligible to get the flu jab. The flu jab is completely safe, and it can’t give you flu. The sooner people have the jab the better.”

Coun Gill Neal, cabinet member for Public Health and Wellbeing, added: “Flu symptoms can come on suddenly and sometimes severely. The most effective way to help protect yourself and your loved ones against flu is to get vaccinated.

“For most children it is not even an injection, it’s just a quick, easy and painless nasal spray.”

NHS St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group and St Helens Council Public Health are encouraging everyone in St Helens who knows anyone who may be at risk from flu to tell them how important it is that they get protected.

“People who are carers and frontline health and social care staff are also encouraged to get a free jab to protect themselves and those around them.

“Younger children are being encouraged to ‘Fight the Flu Monsters!’ - a campaign designed by local children that will promote the free nasal spray and encourage families to ensure their children are protected.

“The best time to be vaccinated is at the start of the autumn before flu is circulating: you can get the jab now, so it’s good to get in early and get flu safe in time for the winter.

For more information, speak to your GP or local pharmacist, or visit www.nhs.uk/flu