Stay well this winter and avoid the flu

23 October 2015

With the drop in temperature over the last few weeks you can’t fail to notice that winter is on its way and with it comes the start of the cold and flu season.

To help you to stay well this winter, GPs and pharmacies throughout the county are offering an annual flu vaccination to people most at risk from developing complications. Pregnant women, those over 65, people with long term health conditions and their carers, are all eligible to receive a free vaccination to help them to stay well this winter.

In addition, children in school years one and two and children aged two, three and four are entitled to receive a free nasal spray vaccine that is quick, painless and non-invasive. Parents of children aged two to four are encouraged to book an appointment with their GP to vaccinate their child against the flu virus. Parents of children in school years one and two are asked to complete a consent form to allow the school immunisation teams to administer the nasal spray flu vaccine to their children. For children in areas where the vaccination is not offered through their school, parents should make an appointment with the local GP.

Dr Lindsay Kinlin, spokesperson for Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group and GP at The Avenue Surgery in Warminster comments:

“Most people with the flu start to feel better after a few days. Bed rest, plenty of liquids and a mild pain relief such as paracetamol is often all that is required. However, for more vulnerable people, like the very young or the elderly, flu can be extremely dangerous and in some serious cases, can be fatal.

“For those people, having the flu vaccine is the best way to help them to stay healthy this winter. If you are pregnant, over 65, have a long term health condition or care for someone that does make sure you remember to take up the offer of your free flu vaccination. You can make an appointment with your local doctor or there are a number of pharmacies in the county that are offering the vaccination to people in vulnerable groups free of charge.”

Wiltshire Council corporate director, Maggie Rae said:

“We want as many families as possible protected and the flu vaccine is the best protection we have against an unpredictable virus that can make people seriously unwell, particularly those in at risk groups.

“I would urge people to get the vaccination as soon as possible as the virus does evolve and we want families to stay safe during the winter months and beyond.”

Dr Lindsay Kinlin continues:

“To help stop the spread of flu and the chance of catching it, good hygiene is really important. Washing your hands regularly with soap and water, using a tissue to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and putting used tissues in the bin all help to prevent catching or spreading the flu virus.”

The flu is not the same as the common cold. The flu is cause by a different group of viruses and often tends to start more suddenly, be more severe and last for longer. If you think you have the flu try to avoid interacting too much with other people until you start to feel better.

The main differences between the flu and a common cold are:

Flu symptoms:

  • Come on quickly
  • Usually include fever and aching muscles
  • Make you feel too unwell to continue your usual activities

Cold symptoms:

  • Come on gradually
  • Mainly affect your nose and throat
  • Are fairly mild, so you can still get around and are usually well enough to go to work

Wiltshire Council cabinet member for public health, Keith Humphries said:

“A flu vaccination is the type of thing that’s easily put off and put off until it’s forgotten about.

“However, the vaccination process is quick and simple and will help protect people as much as possible from this virus, which for some people can have particularly devastating consequences.”

For further information on how to stay well this winter visit http://www.wiltshireccg.nhs.uk/stay-well-this-winter.