Flu jabs to ease hospital burden

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MORE people in Buxton are protecting themselves from the life-threatening consequences of flu than this time last year, new figures reveal.

Last year 600 people nationwide died from flu, and a high proportion of those deaths may have been avoided if people in at-risk groups had been vaccinated.

Between September 1 and November 13, 67 per cent of elderly people aged 65 or over in Derbyshire chose to have their seasonal flu jab – compared to 61 per cent at the same time last year.

Vaccinating in large numbers early on in the flu season can help stop the spread of the illness, which can be particularly harmful to the elderly, pregnant women and those with long-term illnesses such as asthma and diabetes.

Dr Bruce Laurence, acting director of public health for NHS Derbyshire County, said: “The flu virus tends to peak in winter, so we’re delighted that we are helping to save more lives at a critical point in the flu season.

A high uptake also plays a vital role in preventing unnecessary hospital admissions.

“We recognise there is no room for complacency and flu is a serious, sometimes even life-threatening illness, which people can catch easily when it is circulating.”

NHS Derbyshire County has also seen an increase in the number of pregnant women having the flu jab this year, with 26 per cent having the jab compared to 17 per cent last year.

But seven out of ten pregnant women are still putting themselves at risk of premature labour, miscarriage and respiratory complications by choosing not to have the flu jab.

GPs in Buxton will continue their flu vaccination programme until the end of February.

Anyone aged over 65, pregnant women, carers, residents in long-stay care homes, those with heart disease, breathing problems, diabetes and other long-term illnesses is entitled to a free flu jab.

l To book an appointment for a flu jab contact your GP. Help and information on the flu and its symptoms is available from NHS Direct on 0845 4647.