Don’t get floored by flu this winter

By Dr Niruban Ratnarajah

With all the focus on Covid, it’s important that we don’t take our eye off the ball when it comes to another virus this winter.

Flu kills thousands of people every year while many more end up in hospital.

It places great pressure on our health and care services – services that are already under strain because of Covid-19.

That’s why I was delighted to see patients queuing up at 7.15am last weekend to attend a walk-in flu vaccination clinic at my practice! We had a great response and vaccinated more than 1,000 people in a day.

Flu is not just a bad cold. If you catch flu, you’ll definitely know about it. It’s debilitating and can have very serious consequences for some people.

You definitely don’t want the double whammy of catching both flu and Covid-19 at the same time; experts have warned that, if you do, you are twice as likely to die.

It’s really important to remember that the flu vaccine won’t protect you against Covid, and vice versa, so please get both vaccines if you are eligible.

Like the Covid jab, the flu vaccine will reduce your chances of getting flu. It will also reduce its severity if you do catch it, and reduce the chances of spreading the virus to vulnerable loved ones or colleagues who could become seriously ill.

And, no matter what some people say, the flu vaccine cannot give you flu!

Like my practice, surgeries and pharmacies across Bolton have started offering the free flu jab to those who are most at risk. This includes the over-50s, pregnant women and people with existing health conditions such as diabetes or COPD. Carers and health and care workers are also eligible.

Children in Reception to Year 11 will be offered a painless nasal spray vaccination at school, while those aged two and three can get this at their GP practice.

Parents who decline the spray for their child because of porcine gelatine (pork) content can request an injectable alternative. If this applies to you, please ensure that you fill in and return the appropriate consent forms.

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