Local health and care staff are the first to step up and have their flu jabs in order to stay well this winter and protect their patients and loved ones from the virus.
They have also joined forces this year to urge at risk groups and frontline health and care colleagues across the county to take up the free flu vaccination and stay well this winter.
Each winter hundreds of thousands of people across the country see their GP and tens of thousands are hospitalised because of influenza (flu), which could be prevented by having the flu vaccine once a year.
This year’s local flu vaccination campaign has been launched jointly by Herefordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (HCCG), Wye Valley NHS Trust (WVT), Public Health, Herefordshire Council, 2gether NHS Foundation Trust, and West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS), as part of the national seasonal flu vaccination campaign.
The national flu vaccination campaign launched across the UK last week – targeting people of all ages including people with a long-term health condition, pregnant women, and parents of children aged 2 to 4 and over 65s, encouraging uptake of the flu vaccine among these most at-risk groups.
Around 1000 front line staff from HCCG, WVT, Public Health, Herefordshire Council, 2gether and WMAS, so far have had or have booked their flu vaccination this year to help to protect patients and service users.
Dr Andy Watts, GP and clinical lead for the Herefordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (HCCG), said: “As a GP I’m recommending that all of my patients in at risk groups are vaccinated against flu and for everyone to ensure they keep themselves healthy throughout the Winter flu season. Flu is not the same as the common cold, it is much more serious and can have serious consequences, especially for those patients with additional health problems.
“For anyone in the at risks groups, for example pregnant women, over 65’s, carers, people who have a health condition or weak immune system, it is important that they take action by contacting their GP early in the flu season for the flu vaccination or the nasal spray for children aged two to four years, which is provided free of charge.
“I would urge all health and care frontline workers across Herefordshire, including hospital, ambulance, social care, and mental health service staff, to make sure they are vaccinated to protect themselves and reduce the risk of passing on the illness to their patients and their families”.
For most healthy people, flu is an unpleasant but usually self-limiting disease with recovery taking up to a week. However, people in at risk groups are at particular risk from the more serious effects of flu.
Dr Arif Mahmood, Consultant in Public Health for Herefordshire, said: “Flu vaccination can help protect people who are at greater risk of getting seriously ill and being admitted to hospital. The nasal spray is a quick, easy and painless way to help prevent pre-school age children catching flu and the vaccine also helps to reduce the spread of flu to those who are more vulnerable.
“The flu vaccine is one of the most effective ways to reduce harm from flu. It is perfectly safe to get a flu jab. The flu vaccine and nasal spray are tailored to give protection against the circulating flu viruses, so it is important to remember to have the vaccination every year.”
Jon Barnes, Chief Operating Officer at Wye Valley NHT Trust added: “We are delighted that this early in the campaign many of our staff, including doctors, nurses, midwives, physiotherapists, and community staff, have had their flu vaccine. Our vaccinators are offering the flu jab to staff as they arrive at work, and at drop in clinics in our hospitals, community sites, and on the wards.
“It is our responsibility to protect our patients as healthcare providers. It is therefore vital that every member of our staff gets vaccinated and supports this year’s local flu vaccination campaign. If we reduce the chances of staff contracting flu, we can really drive down the possibility of passing it on to our patients”.
You are eligible to receive a free flu jab if you:
• are 65 years of age or over (or will be 65 on March 31 2016)
• are pregnant
• have certain medical conditions
• are very overweight - anyone with a body mass index (BMI) over 40
• are living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility
• receive a carer's allowance, or you are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill
• are a healthcare worker with direct patient contact, or a social care worker
Health and care bosses in Herefordshire lead the way in staying well this winter by ensuring they have their flu jabs.
Left to Right: Nick Montandon - WMAS area manager Herefordshire, Eddie O’neill - Deputy Director of Service Delivery 2gether, Dr Arif Mahmood - Consultant in Public Health for Herefordshire, Jon Barnes - Chief Operating Officer WVT, Dr Andy Watts - GP and clinical lead HCCG, and Cath Allen WVT health@work vaccinator