Flu vaccine campaign commences

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In a huge public health drive, pregnant women are among those being pushed to get the flu vaccine.

People suffering health conditions and parents of young children are also targets for medics looking at encouraging immunisation against flu before winter starts.

Public Health England (PHE) are urging pregnant women not to delay going for the vaccine as pregnancy causes natural weakness of the immune system, which increases the risk of both the mother and the foetus becoming ill.

Those who are at particular risk of becoming ill are older people, the very young and sufferers of health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, or asthma.

Children aged two and three became eligible for the flu vaccine last year, and the new nasal spray has now become available for four-year-olds.

The national media campaign is due to be launched today, and will continue for four weeks.

Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer, said flu is an unpleasant illness, particularly for vulnerable patients and it is vital that people take preventative steps to protect themselves and their families.

The director for health protection and medical director at PHE, Dr Paul Cosford, said the nasal spray available for young children is painless, easy and quick. He said the vaccine helps to reduce the spread of infection to those who are more vulnerable.

He added that even those who have well-managed health conditions and who lead healthy lives should have the vaccine.

Dr Cosford said last year about 40% of pregnant women received the vaccination. He said they would like to see more pregnant women and their babies offered protection this year. It is safe for women to have the vaccine at any stage of their pregnancy as it lowers the risk of complications such as pneumonia and premature birth, which can occur as a result of contracting flu.

During last winter, 904 people were admitted to high dependency units or intensive care with flu. Of this number, 98 passed away.

Image Credit: NHS Employers

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