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Beat flu before it beats you – Launch of national flu vaccination campaign in Wales

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The annual national campaign to encourage people in eligible groups across Wales to have a flu vaccination and protect themselves from the illness is now being launched.

‘Beat Flu’ aims to encourage the people who need it most to get protection each year against flu, a potentially dangerous disease. This includes everyone aged 65 and over, people with certain chronic long term health conditions and pregnant women.

Carers, volunteers providing planned emergency first aid and Community First Responders, are also entitled to the vaccine, which is delivered as a small injection in the arm.

Frontline health and social care workers should have the vaccine as part of their occupational health care, to protect themselves and those they care for.

The vaccine programme will be extended this year for children and those between the ages of two and seven will be eligible. The vaccine for children is a simple nasal spray with children aged 2 and 3 receiving it at their GP practice while those in reception class and school years 1, 2 and 3 will receive the nasal spray at school.

Vaccination clinics are taking place across North Wales and Siobhan Adams, Deputy Director of Public Health for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board is, urging all those who are eligible to have the flu jab.

Siobhan said: “Flu can cause serious complications and even lead to death. The flu vaccine can significantly reduce the chances of getting flu and so it is very important that those people who are offered the flu vaccine by their GP should take up the offer and visit their GP or local pharmacy as soon as possible to ensure they are protected.

“GPs in North Wales are prepared for this winter’s battle against the flu bug and are already contacting eligible patients inviting them for the vaccine.

“Our school nurse teams will be visiting each primary school immunising children in Reception class, Year 1, 2 and 3 to offer the nasal flu vaccine which is given up the nose as a spray, so it is painless and quick as there is no needle.

“We have to ensure that people who are eligible for this free vaccine are aware that the flu virus can kill – and the best people can protect themselves is to have the vaccine”

Minister for Social Services and Public Health, Rebecca Evans, who is launching the Beat Flu campaign today, said it’s vital that those most at risk of flu and its complications have the free vaccine.

Rebecca Evans has encouraged others to join her and pledge to beat flu. The Minister said: “Flu can be a life-threatening illness for people who are at risk because of their age, because they have an underlying health problem or because they are pregnant. Sadly, it kills people in Wales every year.

“People can also pledge to Beat Flu by reminding eligible relatives and friends to get their flu vaccine this autumn. We run this programme every year to make sure people don’t fall seriously ill with flu, especially as it can be prevented so quickly and simply – so make sure you get protected early.”

Health and social care workers are also encouraged to get a flu vaccine as it is the best way to prevent spreading disease, and their employers should support them in this.

Each year the flu vaccine is changed to match circulating strains of the flu virus, this is to give best protection.  Most NHS flu vaccines are given in GP surgeries, but it is also available in some community pharmacies across Wales.

Dr Richard Roberts, Head of the Vaccine Preventable Disease Programme in Public Health Wales, added: “Each year flu viruses circulate causing many people to be ill. The viruses change regularly and vaccine protection fades over time, so if you are in a risk group and had the vaccine last year you should get vaccinated again this year to protect you from flu this winter.

“Getting vaccinated against flu every year is the single best way to protect against catching or spreading flu.

“Flu can be really serious even with treatment, but getting vaccinated offers good protection, so make sure you beat flu before it beats you!”

Find out more by visiting www.beatflu.org

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