WWL calls on local community to be prepared for flu season
Helen Richardson, Chief Nurse and Director of Nursing & Infection Prevention and Control at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
We’re at that time of year again when the frost descends upon us, dark nights set in, and we look ahead to the festive season.
Although this is a winter – and indeed a year – that few of us will ever forget, for many of us this time of year is still all about special times with those close to us.
While some things may be different this year, others don’t change, and making sure we’re ready for the winter period is one of them: whether it’s making sure your vehicle’s prepared for the cold weather, ensuring you can adequately heat your home in the weeks ahead, or being mentally and physically healthy and able to fight off infection – preparedness is everything.
At WWL, the health and wellbeing of our patients and staff is our priority, so we want to do all we can to ensure that as many of us as possible are vaccinated against the flu virus.
As healthcare workers we have a duty to ensure that we protect ourselves from the virus and we must remember – this winter more than ever – the risk that flu poses to us.
Flu is a serious condition that kills, on average, 11,000 people in England every year, and hospitalises many more. Adults at high risk from flu are also most at risk from Covid-19.
New research from Public Health England (PHE) has suggested that the risk of death more than doubles for those who test positive for both flu and Covid-19, when compared with those with Covid-19 alone. The research also found that those with co-infection of the two viruses are more at risk of severe illness.
Many people believe that the flu vaccination can give you flu – this is untrue. The vaccine doesn’t contain any live viruses and most people experience no side-effects r.
The NHS is working hard to provide the free flu vaccine to 30 million people across the country this year – the highest number on record.
All primary school-aged children and, for the first time, Year 7 children will be offered a flu ‘nasal spray’ in schools to reduce community transmission. Two- and three-year-olds will also be offered the vaccine through their GP.
The most vulnerable, including adults aged 65 and over, those with long-term health conditions and pregnant women, will be offered the flu vaccine first through their GP or pharmacy.
It will also be offered to household contacts of people on the NHS Shielded Patient List and all health and all social care workers who have direct contact with the people they care for.
For the 6,500 staff within our WWL family, there are three ways of accessing the free vaccine this year: many areas now have their own ‘Flu Link Nurse,’ and there will also be clinics delivered by Occupational Health at various venues. Flu vouchers are available again this year and can be requested for staff to take to a local pharmacy.
Across the country, once uptake has been maximised in the most at-risk groups, the newly eligible 50- to 64-year-olds will be invited for vaccination later in the season. Anyone aged 50-64 with a long-term health condition should be vaccinated earlier in the season, in line with all others in risk groups.
If you are eligible, please book your flu jab by contacting your GP Practice. You may get vaccinated at the practice or at one of the Borough’s four specially set up Covid-safe Flu Clinics, depending on what is the right place for you.
So it’s a final reminder from us, with the simultaneous risk of flu and Covid-19 in mind, to please endeavour to get your flu jab, and remember ‘Hands, Face, Space.’ Let’s take care of ourselves and one another this winter. #jabdone
For further information on flu, please visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/flu