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Windsor girl amongst hundreds to support national campaign

Alyzeh Hassan (Year 1 pupil) from Hilltop First School in Dedworth welcomed the flu spray from a team of nurses’ yesterday morning (8/11) from Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

On Monday this week (7/11), NHS England and Public Health England launchedits national ‘Stay well this winter’ campaign which aims to help people prepare for winter weather.

According to their figures, around 25,000 more people die over the course of each winter compared to other times of the year and there are a range of conditions worsened by the cold weather - 80 per cent of these deaths are accounted for by people with circulatory diseases (such as heart disease, lung illnesses and stroke), dementia and respiratory diseases (such as asthma).

In support of the campaign, the three Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in east Berkshire* are encouraging local residents, particularly the young, old and those withlong-term health conditions to get vaccinated this winter.

Thousands of people nationwide visit their doctor with flu symptoms each year. Many will need hospital treatment because of flu-related complications, and in some cases, these complications can be fatal.

The flu vaccination is provided free of charge to the following groups of people as they could be particularly vulnerable to complications from the flu:

  • Children aged two, three and four on August 31 2016 – that is, children born between September 1 2011 and August 31 2014
  • Children in school years one, two and three
  • Children aged 2 to 17 with long-term health conditions
  • Everyone over 65 years of age
  • Anyone with a long term condition such as diabetes, chronic liver or neurological disease
  • Pregnant women
  • The main carer of an older or disabled person.

Director of Nursing & Quality at the CCG, Sarah Bellars, said: “If you have a long term condition such as asthma, diabetes, a neurological disease or chronic liver, kidney or lung disease, then protecting yourself against flu is vital.

“The strain of flu can change each year which is why we strongly recommend that even if you were vaccinated last year, that you are vaccinated again this year. Catching the flu could make you seriously ill and make complications more likely.

She added: “Flu can be serious for young children and because they mix with so many family members they are called ‘superspreaders’. For these reasons, we feel it is critical for children to be given the nasal spray to protect themselves and those around them.”

Children aged 2, 3 and 4 years old can attend a flu clinic at their GP practice while children aged 5 and 6 will receive the flu nasal spray at their school. The nasal spray for children offers a free, fast and painless way to protect children from flu.

When explaining the reasons why pregnant women should to be vaccinated, Sarah Bellars, said: “If you are expecting a baby, catching the flu could lead to some serious complications. For this reason, it is important for pregnant women to get their free flu jab. The vaccine can be given safely at any stage of pregnancy, from conception onwards. Your doctor or midwife will be able to guide you with specific advice and details of local vaccination clinics.”

Some simple steps to help keep safe this winter:

  • Wrap up warm in freezing weather. Research shows even at above freezing temperatures, for every one degree centigrade drop below five degrees, there is a resulting increase in older people consulting their GP for breathing problems, as well as an increase in associated deaths.
  • Make sure your gas, solid fuel and oil burning appliances are serviced by a registered engineer so that they are working effectively and safely before the winter sets in.
  • Experts are also advising people to heat their homes to at least 18°C (65°F) and to look out for those at increased risk of illness over the winter months. Cold and damp homes can contribute to poor mental health and social isolation, which are also key factors in increased winter deaths and disease.
  • Remember that eating a healthy, balanced diet and staying physically active can keep you healthy.

*Windsor, Ascot and Maidenhead CCG, Slough CCG and Bracknell and Ascot CCG.