This is a transcript of my My View column that was published in the Doncaster Star on Monday 9 October, 2017
The NHS has been looking to the other side of the world to learn about potential healthcare problems that could be looming. Australia and New Zealand have had their winter and their experiences are useful for us to plan for ours in the UK.
Both countries have had heavy flu seasons, which put a big strain on their hospitals. Many patients with long term health problems became very ill after contracting flu.
So what happened 12,000 miles away in the last few months is important to us because, with the ease and frequency of international travel, bugs can travel great distances in a short space of time.
The experience ‘down under’ has prompted the NHS to start planning for a demanding flu season that will put pressure on our health care resources.
You can help the NHS by making sure you have a FREE flu jab from your GP surgery or pharmacy if you are in one of these groups who are at increased risk from flu:
- Aged 65 and over
- Aged 6 months to aged 65 years with a long-term medical condition; such as diabetes, asthma, heart, liver or kidney disease, weakened immune system and chronic neurological disorder
- Pregnant women
- Two and three year old children
- People living in long stay residential care or nursing homes
- Main carers of an older or disabled person
- Body Mass Index over 40
School nurses will offer jabs to children aged four to eight years
All front-line NHS and social care staff are being encouraged to have a flu jab and I had mine last week at my surgery in Bentley. It took less than a couple of seconds and I’ve had no side effects.
If you go to NHS Doncaster CCG’s facebook page you can see a video of me having the jab, which shows that it’s quick, easy and nothing to worry about.
Flu occurs every year. It’s a highly infectious disease with symptoms that come on very quickly. Colds are much less serious and usually start gradually with a stuffy or runny nose and a sore throat. A bout of flu can be much worse than a heavy cold.
The most common symptoms of flu are fever, chills, headache, aches and pains in the joints and muscles and extreme tiredness. Healthy people normally recover within two to seven days but for some the disease can lead to hospitalisation, permanent disability and even death.
It’s important to have the jab in the Autumn before any outbreaks of flu. It will protect you through the 2017/18 flu season. You need one every year, so don’t assume you are protected because you had one last year.
If you are not in one of the ‘at risk’ groups there’s nothing to prevent you having a flu jab, but you will have to pay for it.