Stave off flu with free jab

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South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust is urging its staff and members of the public to have a flu jab this winter to protect themselves.

In 2010 and 2011 602 people died from flu in England and almost 9,000 patients were admitted to hospital of which 2,200 were admitted to intensive care.

It costs an average of £247 for an ambulance resource to attend an incident in the South Central Region. Assuming costs are similar throughout England and that all 9,000 patients admitted to hospital with flu in 2010/11 were conveyed to hospital by ambulance having a flu jab this year could result in savings to the ambulance service across England in excess of £2.2 million.

Those at greater risk from flu include people aged 65 or over, pregnant women, and those with long term health conditions such as severe asthma, chest or heart complaints, liver or kidney disease and neurological conditions and diabetes.

Phil Convery, SCAS Infection Control Lead, said: “Your local ambulance service is encouraging staff and members of the public to get a flu jab to help to relieve seasonal pressures on the service and help ensure that an ambulance response is available to those who will need it over the winter period when demand on the ambulance service is greatest.”

The flu vaccine changes every year to fight the latest strains of flu, so even if you had a jab last winter you need another one this year to stay flu safe. The jab doesn’t contain the ‘live’ virus so it cannot give you the flu.

Flu can increase the risk of developing more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and can make existing conditions much worse and can even be a killer.

Phil said: “The best time to be vaccinated is at the start of the flu season from October to early November, so it’s good to get in early and get flu safe in time for the winter. Having a flu jab is quick, safe and free for those most at risk from the virus. Contact your GP now to arrange a convenient appointment for your jab.”

For more information, speak to your GP or local pharmacist.

You can also visit the dedicated NHS website or the South Central Ambulance site