Make sure you stay free from ‘flu

Dr Alison Walker, Executive Medical Director at Yorkshire Ambulance Service

Dr Alison Walker, Executive Medical Director at Yorkshire Ambulance Service

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RESIDENTS are being urged to get the ‘flu jab this winter.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust is supporting and encouraging the campaign for people to get the jab to help to relieve winter pressures on the ambulance service and NHS.

The highly-contagious condition can be caught by anyone and for certain groups of patients it can be a very serious illness.

In 2010-11 602 people died from ‘flu in England and almost 9,000 people were admitted to hospital - of which 2,200 were admitted to intensive care units.

Those at greater risk from flu include people aged 65 or over, pregnant women, premature babies and those with long-term health conditions such as asthma, chest or heart complaints, liver or kidney disease and neurological conditions and diabetes.

Dr Alison Walker, Yorkshire Ambulance Service’s Executive medical director, said: “We are encouraging staff and members of the public to get a ‘flu jab to help reduce the number of people who become ill with ‘flu, to reduce cross-infection, and to relieve seasonal pressures on the service and help to ensure that an ambulance response is available to those who need it over the winter period when demand on our service is greatest.”

Dr Walker is also keen to point out that ‘flu can increase the risk of developing more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and can make existing conditions much worse.

She said: “‘Flu is a serious illness. The common cold is a minor illness and is not the same thing. ‘Flu can knock you off your feet and make it hard to look after family members or go to work and, in the most serious cases, it can even be life-threatening.”

Starting this month, people across Yorkshire at most risk are being encouraged to get ‘flu safe with a free jab from their GP.

The vaccine changes every year to fight the latest strains of ‘flu so even if people have had the jab last winter, another is needed.

Dr Walker added: “The best time to be vaccinated is at the start of the ‘flu season from October to early November, so it’s good to get in early and get ‘flu safe in time for the winter and while there are plenty of jabs available. Having a ‘flu jab is quick, safe and free for those most at risk from the virus.”

Residents are being urged to speak to their GP or pharmacist for further details and can visit www.nhs.uk/flu