Free flu jabs are on offer for those at risk

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THE local NHS has launched its annual flu campaign, urging those at risk to get their free vaccination.

NHS Sussex launched its seasonal flu campaign on Monday (October 8) and GP practices in 1066 Country and across the UK are offering the vaccine to those most at risk of becoming unwell this winter.

Four groups of people have been identified as being at most risk and these are pregnant women, those with a long-term condition such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease and multiple sclerosis, carers, and people aged over 65.

Dr Andrew Foulkes, medical director at NHS Sussex and a GP, said: “Even a mild flu season can contribute to more than 2,000 deaths each winter across the country – the majority of which could be prevented if those people had been vaccinated.

“Some people are more at risk from flu and need the vaccine because they are not able to fight off flu as easily as others. If they do become unwell this winter it could result in serious complications which may need hospital treatment and have long-term effects on their health.

“If you’re in one of these ‘at risk’ groups, speak to your GP practice and find out when they are holding their clinics.”

Last year less than half of those eligible with long-term conditions, including children, had the free vaccine, with hundreds of people missing out on vital protection from seasonal flu.

Dr Foulkes added: “We hope that this year more people come forward and have the important protection to make sure they can stay healthy and well this winter.”

There are additional ways people can protect themselves, their families and friends.

Good hand hygiene, the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ technique, reduces the spread of germs. This means carrying tissues, catching coughs and sneezes with a tissue, disposing of the tissue after one use, and then cleaning hands as soon as possible with soap and water or an alcohol hand gel. Flu symptoms include fever, headache, cough, sore throat and muscle aches. They appear quickly, last for about seven days and generally leave the sufferer exhausted for weeks afterwards.

There’s more information about how to stay well this winter on the NHS Choices website. Log onto www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk or scan the QR code below.