Dr Nick Tupper blog: Time for a flu jab

DSC_0244-1It’s that time of year again, when the nights get longer, the temperatures drop, and we need to think about having a flu jab, as winter is just around the corner.

I’ve had mine – expertly given by healthcare assistant Rebecca Phillips, as you can see –  and I highly recommend that you have one too.

For most people, a bout of flu makes you feel miserable but it’s not a serious illness. If you are generally healthy, you will usually recover from it within a week.

But some people are more at risk of developing potentially serious health problems from flu, such as bronchitis and pneumonia. The NHS offers the injected flu vaccine free of charge to the following groups:

  • are 65 years old or over
  • children aged six months to two years at risk of flu
  • are pregnant
  • have certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease
  • are very overweight
  • are living in a long-stay care home
  • receive a carer’s allowance, or are the main carer for someone who may be at risk if you fall ill

If you’re in one of these at risk groups you should have a jab every year because the types of flu can change. A new vaccine is produced every year to protect against the most common strains that are expected to be a problem. Just because you’ve had a flu vaccination in the past doesn’t mean that you are protected now – that’s why it’s important to have one every year. You can have a vaccination at your GP surgery or at a local pharmacy offering the service.

Flu spreads easily and quickly through coughing and sneezing, or by touching something – such as a door knob – after someone with flu has touched it, and then touching your nose or mouth. So somebody who has flu can infect many other people around them.

Importantly, antibiotics won’t kill colds or flu so your GP will not prescribe them to you. Next month a Doncaster-wide awareness campaign will be launched to explain all about antibiotics and how we need to control their use so they stay effective in the future.

Finally, I would like to praise colleagues of mine at Kingthorne Group Practice for their fantastic fund-raising efforts in memory of Phoebe Green who, sadly, who died nearly 10 years ago, shortly after her birth. ‘Phoebe’s Angels’ – who include Phoebe’s mum Kate who also works at Kingthorne – have already collected over £1755 for Jessop’s Neonatal Unit and, as this column went to press, were preparing to take part in an abseiling, zip-wiring and simulated parachute jump to raise even more. I was involved in Phoebe’s care and know how devastating the loss of a child can be, so well done to them all for keeping her memory alive in such a positive way.

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