Vulnerable should get flu jab now

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ELDERLY, ailing and pregnant Wigan folk have been urged to get their flu jabs and get them early.

Health chiefs want locals who fall into any one of a list of “at risk” categories to be inoculated within the next few weeks at the latest.

Experts say that while most of us can shake influenza off, for more vulnerable people it can be a life-threatening illness.

Dr Kate Ardern, Wigan’s Executive Director of Public Health timed the call to coincide with the launch of the Department of Health’s annual ’flu immunisation campaign, which aims to help increase the number of flu jabs issued to those within at-risk groups.

Those at-risk include all people aged 65 years and over, as well as folk aged less than 65 who have long-standing conditions such as:

Respiratory disease including people with asthma requiring preventer inhalers;

Heart disease;

Kidney disease;

Liver disease;

Neurological disease, for example if you have had a stroke in the past;

Diabetes; and

Lowered immunity due either to a disease or treatment.

It is also recommended that all pregnant women - at whatever stage of pregnancy they may be - get the vaccination.

Pregnant women are a greater risk of suffering complications following an infection with influenza due to the H1N1 virus in particular.

Dr Ardern, herself an asthmatic, said: “Common colds are frequently confused with flu, but the ’flu virus can be potentially life-threatening, and will generally require weeks of recovery time.

“Those at greater risk of developing serious complications from flu should get themselves down to their local surgery as soon as possible to protect themselves from the virus in the months to come.”

She added that the flu vaccine does not contain any live viruses and it is impossible to get flu from the vaccine. Last year many people delayed seeking immunisation until late into December when the media highlighted some tragic deaths due to flu.