Weekend Diagnosis: Being a flu fighter

Published: 28 September 2016

Mairead McAlindenThis Weekend Diagnosis is from Mairead McAlinden, our Chief Executive

The flu season is fast approaching and GP surgeries will be running vaccination clinics very soon to provide people with the best protection against the virus.

The vaccination is provided free by the NHS for pregnant women, those aged over 65, and anyone between six months and 65 years who has a medical condition which could be worsened by flu. It is quick, simple, virtually painless and – despite myths to the contrary – cannot actually give you the flu as it contains no live virus.

Children aged between two and four years old can receive a nasal flu vaccine to protect against influenza, so parents are urged to take them for the vaccination when invited by their surgery.

Those who have had the flu will tell you it is very different to a common cold, often confining the fittest of people to bed. For those in the ‘at risk’ groups the effects can be more serious, leading to hospitalisation and worse in some cases. For this reason it is important that people take the opportunity to protect themselves before an outbreak occurs.

Within our own Trust and in other NHS organisations across the country, staff vaccination clinics are also now under way. These are an absolutely vital element of the annual response to flu, with two key benefits – providing safe care to our patients, clients and carers by minimising the risk of staff passing the flu to those they care, and protecting individual staff members and their teams from the virus, minimising staff absence due to sickness and making sure we continue to provide a full range of services over the very busy winter period.

Last year our Trust recorded our highest rate of staff flu vaccination, I am grateful to our staff for taking such a responsible attitude to prevention of ill health and we are encouraging a similar response this winter.

To find out more about flu and the national vaccination campaign Flu Safe, visit www.nhs.uk. For details of your local flu clinic, speak to your GP surgery or find details in the local press.