Protect Yourself And Others
With a seasonal increase in flu, including suspected H1N1 (also known as swine flu), doctors, nurses and pharmacists on the Island are encouraging Islanders who are at most risk of seasonal flu to protect themselves and others by getting their free flu jab. It’s not too late to do so.
The seasonal flu immunisation campaign aims to encourage take-up of the vaccine by everyone aged 65 or over, people who live in residential or nursing homes, people who are carers, those under 65 with underlying health conditions and pregnant women.
Everyone aged 65 and over is routinely offered the jab, as are younger people with long-term conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, multiple sclerosis, serious kidney and liver disease. However this year, for the first time, all pregnant women are being offered the seasonal flu vaccination. This is because it protects against the H1N1 virus and pregnant women who catch this strain are at an increased risk of severe disease and flu-related hospital admissions.
Dr Jenifer Smith, Director of Public Health and Chief Medical Advisor for the Island, says:
“In line with national reports health professionals on the Island are reporting an increase in nasty flu like symptoms and we have had confirmed H1N1 cases. Although in most cases this is a mild illness, serious complications can, and do, occur especially in younger people and pregnant women.
“If you haven’t had your flu jab yet, it’s not too late to do so. This year we made it even easier to access the service. You can go along to your local GP surgery or alternatively call into one of the seventeen local pharmacies on the Island who are offering the seasonal flu vaccination this year. I cannot stress enough how important it is for those most at risk to make sure they protect themselves and others.
“The best way to avoid flu is to get immunised. In addition Islanders can protect themselves by practising good personal and hand hygiene with the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ technique. This means carrying tissues, covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue, disposing of the tissue after one use, and cleaning hands as soon as possible with soap and water or an alcohol hand gel.”
You should have the seasonal flu vaccination if you are:
- aged 65 years or over;
- living in a residential or nursing home;
- the main carer for an older or disabled person; or
- suffering from a chronic condition
Even if you feel healthy, you may still be at increased risk of seasonal flu. The free seasonal flu vaccination is also recommended and free if you have:
- a heart problem
- a chest complaint or breathing difficulties including, bronchitis, emphysema
- a kidney disease
- lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (such as steroid medication or cancer treatment)
- a liver disease
- had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
- a neurological condition e.g. multiple sclerosis (MS) or cerebral palsy
- a problem with, or removal of, your spleen e.g. sickle cell disease.
If you are pregnant you will also be offered the flu vaccination this year. This is because the H1N1 virus will still be circulating this winter and pregnant women who catch this strain are at an increased risk of severe disease and flu-related hospital admissions.
For those who do not qualify for free vaccination you may be able to be vaccinated for a small charge. This is available from some pharmacies, doctors surgeries and the NHS Occupational Health Department.
Information about seasonal flu is available at www.nhs.uk/flu. Every year there are approximately 8,000 flu-related deaths in the winter months in England and Wales - these deaths are avoidable.
The following community pharmacies are offering the seasonal flu service to any at risk patients who are unable to attend GP practice clinics – no appointment necessary:
- Blakelys Pharmacy, Ryde
- Boots the Chemist, Sandown
- Boots the Chemist, Ryde
- Day Lewis Pharmacy, Cowes
- Day Lewis Pharmacy, Shanklin
- Gibbs and Gurnell, Ryde
- Lloyds Pharmacy, Newport
- Lloyds Pharmacy, Ryde
- Lloyds Pharmacy, Sandown
- Niton Pharmacy
- Your Local Boots, Cowes
- Your Local Boots, Sandown
- Regent Pharmacy, Shanklin
- Siddys Convent Pharmacy
- Siddys Pharmacy, Wootton
- Tesco Pharmacy, Ryde
- Yarmouth Pharmacy