Milton Keynes may be in for deadly flu season after Australia's killed hundreds

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Health bosses are urging thousands of Milton Keynes residents to get vaccinated before a deadly flu from Australia hits the UK.

One of Australia's most serious flu seasons is coming to an end, and it could mean a severe outbreak is on its way to Milton Keynes.

So far, there have been more than 272,000 laboratory confirmed cases of the flu and 662 deaths, according to a report from Australia's Department of Health.

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Levels of flu in Australia are often a good predictor for flu in England, and the NHS Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is calling on all eligible patients to get vaccinated before the flu virus starts circulating.

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Statistics from Public Health England revealed more than 29,000 vulnerable patients in Milton Keynes, including 2,000 pregnant women, failed to have their free flu vaccination between September 2018 and February this year.

Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to severe complications of flu. During the period 2009 to 2012, one in eleven maternal deaths was due to influenza infection.

Dr Nicola Smith, GP and Chair of NHS Milton Keynes CCG, said: “This particularly nasty strain of flu in Australia shows just how severe flu can be and it’s vital that all those who are eligible benefit from this life-saving vaccination.

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"Last year thousands of people in Milton Keynes took unnecessary risks with their lives by not taking the steps to protect themselves.

"Flu is a serious, sometimes even life-threatening illness, which people can catch easily when it is circulating."

The flu vaccine is a lifesaver because flu is a highly contagious disease which for some people can lead to serious and sometimes life-threatening consequences.

Studies have proven the vaccine will help prevent flu in patients and reduce the length and strength of flu if caught.

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Dr Smith added: “Some people are more at risk from flu and need the vaccine because they are not able to fight off flu as easily as others. For these people, flu can often result in more serious complications which require hospital treatment.

"It can even be fatal in some cases. So, it’s important that everyone who is eligible for the flu vaccine contacts their local GP practice so they can be protected as soon as possible.

People who should have the flu vaccine if they are:

- 65 years old or over

- pregnant

- have certain medical conditions

- are living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility

- receive a carer's allowance or are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if taken ill