It’s important for care workers to protect those around them, as well as themselves, to ensure that the people they look after are safe.
Mike McDermott, associate director of Public Health at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “The more people who are vaccinated, the lower the likelihood and spread of infection, reducing pressure on the NHS and Social Care during winter months.”
As of this month, the seasonal influenza vaccination programme for 2017/2018 has been extended to include staff who work in registered care homes and domiciliary care, and they can now access the flu jab for free at their GP practice or pharmacy.
This includes staff directly involved in the care of vulnerable patients/clients who are at increased risk from exposure to flu, ie those over 65 or with serious medical condition as listed below, as well as staff who work in the independent sector, third sector and local authority.
The extended programme is intended to complement, not replace, the occupational health schemes already in place by employers.
Free flu jabs are also available for people aged 65 and over, people aged from six months to less than 65 years of age with a long-term health condition, pregnant women, children aged from two to four years, people in long-stay residential care homes, and carers. All children aged two to eight years are to be offered flu vaccinations within a school-based programme.
A serious medical condition includes:
- chronic (long-term) respiratory disease, such as severe asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or bronchitis
- chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- chronic kidney disease at stage three, four or five
- chronic liver disease
- chronic neurological disease, such as Parkinson’s disease or motor neurone disease, or learning disability
- splenic dysfunction
- a weakened immune system due to disease (such as HIV/AIDS) or treatment (such as cancer treatment)
- morbidly obese (defined as BMI of 40 and above)
The flu jab is available free from GP surgeries and pharmacies for people in the at-risk groups, and through a school based programme for children aged four to eight years.
For information on pharmacy locations which are offering the flu vaccine visit: http://www2.eastriding.gov.uk/living/emergencies/preparing-for-emergencies/seasonal-and-pandemic-influenza/
Flu occurs every year, usually in the winter, which is why it’s sometimes called seasonal flu. It’s a highly infectious disease with symptoms that come on very quickly. Colds are much less serious and usually start gradually with a stuffy or runny nose and a sore throat. A bad bout of flu can be much worse than a heavy cold.
The most common symptoms of flu are fever, chills, headache, aches and pains in the joints and muscles, and extreme tiredness. Healthy individuals usually recover within two to seven days.
Mike continued: “Flu is dangerous, highly contagious and largely preventable.
“For most people who catch flu it is unpleasant, but for some it can lead to chest infections, severe complications and even death.”
When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they spread the flu virus in tiny droplets of saliva over a wide area. These droplets can then be breathed in by other people or they can be picked up by touching surfaces where the droplets have landed.
You can prevent the spread of the virus by covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and you can wash your hands frequently or use hand gels to reduce the risk of picking up the virus.
Mike added: “The best way to avoid catching and spreading flu is by having the vaccination before the flu season starts.
“Don’t be put off getting the flu vaccination. If you are eligible get it now, it’s free because you need it.
“If you have a long-term health condition, even one that is well managed, have a serious medical condition or are pregnant, you are at greater risk of severe complications if you catch flu.
“The nasal spray vaccination is a quick, painless and effective way for children aged two to eight, and school years 1 to 4 and the Reception class, to be protected from flu without the need for injections.”
Details of flu clinic times are available from individual GP practices. For more information about who should have a flu jab, visit www.nhs.uk or visit the direct page at http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vaccinations/Pages/flu-influenza-vaccine.aspx