As the weather turns autumnal, Swindon residents are urged to protect themselves from flu and be vaccinated against this common, yet potentially very serious virus.
People considered at greater risk are entitled to a free vaccine and are urged to contact their GP as soon as possible to make an appointment. Those groups at risk include all pregnant women, children aged between two and seven years old, people (including children) under 65 with underlying health conditions, people aged 65 and above, and carers.
Autumn, between now and early November is the best time to be vaccinated. As the viruses which cause flu change yearly, it’s important to have the vaccine, which is one of the most effective ways to reduce harm from flu, annually.
Being vaccinated lowers the risk of serious illness, being admitted to hospital and even death amongst those most vulnerable. Last year nationally, there were nearly 1,200 hospital admissions of confirmed cases and of those 100 died.
Mum-of-one Helen Hicks, aged 31, from Highworth, has already taken steps to protect her three-year-old son Jenson (both pictured).
Helen, a council support worker, said: “I didn’t hesitate to get Jenson vaccinated for peace of mind. He goes to pre-school, so there’s the potential to pick up lots of things and flu can be quite nasty, not only for your health but also the massive disruption it causes. I’m a busy working mum, so can’t afford not to take this opportunity to protect my family. I had it when I was pregnant too because it’s simply not worth the risk, particularly when there’s a vaccine freely available.”
The number of children eligible has been increased to include those in Years 1 and 2, who can now join two to four-year-olds in receiving the vaccine via a nasal spray, which means it’s quick and painless.
Helen added: “He’s had injections before obviously, but this just makes everything even easier. Being vaccinated also means I will worry less about him passing anything on to others, like his grandparents, so there are lots of reasons why it only makes sense to have it done for the whole family.”
Ally Wadeward, aged 29, a programme manager, is 24 weeks pregnant and has also booked in to be vaccinated at her GP surgery in West Swindon.
She said: “I’m definitely getting my flu vaccine this year. Although I’m pretty healthy, there’s no point taking any chances. It’s not just about me anymore but my baby too, so it makes perfect sense to protect both of us. Flu can be more serious than people often think and I’d rather be safe than sorry.”
For further information and to watch a film about how flu spreads, go online at www.nhs.uk/conditions/flu