It’s not too late to vaccinate against flu this winter

Friday, 24th December, 2010 at 12:31 pm

105.9 Bishop FM Web Team

It’s not too late to vaccinate against flu this winter

The Durham Dales Integrated Care Organisation (ICO) is reminding patients that it’s not too late to vaccinate against seasonal flu.

Remember to get your flu jab this winter

Dales patients will also be offered a simple test to check their pulse, which can help to prevent stroke.

The test will screen for an irregular heartbeat, which is sometimes caused by atrial fibrillation; a condition which can increase the chance of suffering a stroke.

The pulse is measured by the health professional just above the inside of the wrist on the thumb side. Irregularities will be followed up by further tests such as an ECG (electrocardiograph) and managed accordingly.

It is an easy test for anyone to perform on themselves. You can collect information on how to do so from your surgery, or from Arrhythmia Alliance at www.knowyourpulse or their 24 hour helpline 01789 450787.

Dales GP, Dr Dilys Waller said: “Detecting an irregular pulse can mean that a patient has atrial fibrillation, a condition which is a major risk factor for stroke disease. Identifying and managing patients with this condition at an earlier stage will reduce their chances of having a stroke.”

It’s not too late to vaccinate against flu this winter

This year’s flu vaccine protects against three seasonal viruses including the H1N1 virus that caused the swine flu pandemic last year and which is still circulating this winter. All expectant mums who have not previously been protected from swine flu, need to get the seasonal flu vaccine to protect themselves and their babies.

Dr Tricia Cresswell, deputy medical director at NHS North East said: “People need to realise that flu is a serious illness which can lead to serious complications – for those who are at risk, the impact can be devastating.

“We’re very concerned at the increase in the number of people being admitted to hospital with serious complications from flu and who are critically ill. We’re urging all those at risk – especially pregnant women- to get the vaccine as a matter of urgency. We are also urging all frontline NHS staff to be vaccinated to protect themselves and others.

“Christmas is a busy time of year but the threat of flu is still very real – it’s crucial that people who are at risk protect themselves this winter and get the vaccine.”

In the north east there are some 800,000 people who are at risk from flu, including:

• All frontline health and social care staff
• Pregnant women who have not previously been protected from swine flu
• All those aged 65 years and over
• People of all ages (over six months for children) with a long term health problem or a weakened immune system*

This year’s vaccine is the same type of vaccine and made in the same way as the seasonal flu vaccine is produced every year – there is no reason for people to be concerned about any different level of reactions to the vaccine.

It does not carry any ‘live’ virus, which means the vaccine cannot give you the flu. Some people may experience mild fever up to 48 hours after having the jab as their immune system responds to the vaccine, but this is not flu. Most people suffer nothing worse than a slightly sore arm.

Dr Cresswell added: “Flu is a preventable illness yet it continues to kill people in the region every year. Our clear message to anyone who is at risk from flu, including frontline staff, is to take up your offer of a free vaccination as soon as possible.”

For further information on this article, please contact Sue Jennings, Programme Manager at susan.jennings1@nhs.net or 01388 660995.  If you are worried about any aspects of your health, contact your GP surgery.  If you live in County Durham and Darlington you can dial 111 to access urgent health care.

Who needs the seasonal flu vaccine?
• All frontline health and social care workers

• Pregnant women who have not previously been protected from swine flu

• All those aged 65 years and over

• *People of all ages (over six months for children) who have:

  • serious breathing problems such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
  • chronic kidney disease, such as kidney failure
  • chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
  • chronic neurological disease, such as Parkinson’s
  • people with diabetes and
  • people with a suppressed immune system due to disease or treatment, such as cancer patients or those with conditions such as cystic fibrosis
  • People who live with others whose immune systems are compromised, such as cancer patients on treatment or people with HIV/AIDS. Those who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer
    falls ill.

Integrated Care Pilots

Integrated Care Pilots were introduced by the Department of Health to improve the health and well-being of the local population.

The Durham Dales Integrated Care Pilot is one of 16 pilot ICO sites across the country and is focusing on improving services within the Dales Practice Based Commissioning (PBC) Cluster.

The pilot revolves around eight themed work streams:

  • Vascular screening
  • Dementia
  • Rural mental health
  • Care closer to home
  • Transport
  • Community beds at Bishop Auckland General Hospital
  • Urgent care
  • Fuel poverty

For further information, contact the communications department on 0191 333 3386 or 07826 531333.