Flu kills 8,000 people annually in winters in England, Wales

The deaths are avoidable, take precautions

1st October 2010:
Annually, approximately 8,000 flu-related deaths take place in the winters in England and Wales – these deaths are avoidable.

No wonder, the UK Department of Health has asked people at risk of seasonal flu to protect themselves by getting their annual free flu jabs.

The assertion came as the Department of Health launched its seasonal flu plans. According to the plans, this year, for the first time, all pregnant women will be offered the seasonal flu vaccination.

This is because it protects against the H1N1 virus (swine flu) that will still be circulating this winter, and pregnant women who catch this strain are at an increased risk of severe disease and flu-related hospital admissions.

Everyone aged 65 and over is routinely offered the jab, as are younger people with long-term conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, multiple sclerosis, serious kidney and liver disease.

Around 15 million people in the UK have the jab, which must be administered every year as it is altered to match the flu strains in circulation.

Professor David Salisbury, Director of Immunisation at the Department of Health said: “This year, the swine flu virus will be one of the most common types of flu going around, and it is important to remind people to remember to get their annual flu jab.The vaccine will protect against three types of flu, including the type known as “swine flu”.

“As we know that this virus can pose additional risks to pregnant women, we are recommending this year, that all pregnant women are vaccinated.

“People should not underestimate the effects of seasonal flu. It is not the same as getting a cold. It can seriously affect your health and the risks of developing complications are greater if you have certain pre-existing medical conditions.

“If you are in any of the identified at risk groups, my advice, especially at this time of the year is to visit your local GP surgery and get the vaccination as soon as possible. This is the best form of protection for you and others.”

Seasonal flu, also known as influenza, is a highly infectious illness caused by a virus. The types of virus in circulation change every year as does the vaccine, so, it is important that those at risk ensure they receive the jab annually to protect themselves.

The best way to avoid flu is to get immunised, but in addition, people can protect themselves and those around them by practising good hand hygiene with the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ technique.

This means carrying tissues, covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue, disposing of the tissue after one use, and cleaning hands as soon as possible with soap and water or an alcohol hand gel.

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