This year, for the first time, care home staff who regularly come into contact with residents are eligible for a free flu vaccination.
The annual flu immunisation programme is now underway across Wales and all those eligible for a flu jab are being urged to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Last year, fewer than half those who were eligible for the jab, who were considered ‘at risk’ and aged between six months and 64 years old, got protected against the flu, a virus that can and does kill every year.
People who are particularly at risk of flu, carers and those who work with people at risk of flu, such as frontline social care workers, can get the vaccination free on the NHS.
‘At risk’ groups eligible for the vaccination include those aged 65 or over, pregnant women, and those with long-term health conditions such as diabetes, heart conditions and chronic chest conditions, as well as those who’ve had a stroke or mini stroke.
Sue Evans, our chief executive, explains why the flu vaccination is vital for care home staff, frontline social care workers, carers and any elderly or ‘at risk’ people you care for: “Flu is a serious illness caused by a virus that affects the lungs and airways.
“Symptoms generally come on suddenly, and can include fever, chills, headache, cough, muscle aches and fatigue. For elderly people and people with chronic health conditions, flu can be deadly.
“The best way to protect yourself and those you care for is by having the flu vaccine each year. Make sure you don’t put yourself or those you care for at risk by missing this potentially life-saving opportunity.
“Flu cannot be treated with antibiotics, so make sure you get your flu vaccine for your own protection. The vaccination also helps prevent the spread of the virus, so getting vaccinated helps keep you and those around you safe.”
Health officials at Public Health Wales warn that even if you had the vaccine last year, it’s important to make sure you get it again this year because immunity wanes and the virus changes each year.
Frontline social care workers should speak to their employer about getting the vaccination or speak to their local community pharmacy.
You can find more information at www.wales.nhs.uk