Why the focus on flu?
Firstly, as a health professional I enjoy providing health education, tips and advice about a variety of issues, not just about feet! 😊 (See my other blog posts here and my top tips for good foot health here).
So, recently, sadly a young woman, aged 35 passed away due to flu. 35!! She was a health professional too and otherwise healthy I believe. Such a tragic loss. This got me thinking, we assume the flu only affects or kills the older generation, but this shows otherwise. I’ve observed various pieces of news recently showing the same thing.... young, fit, healthy people dying because of the flu.
Vulnerable at risk groups.
Obviously, there are those who are more vulnerable and most at risk, e.g.,
- the elderly
- those with chronic health problems such as long term heart or respiratory disease
- pregnant women
- children and young people
(in particular children and adults with weakened immune systems).
Any of these vulnerable groups are more likely to develop potentially serious complications of flu, such as pneumonia (a lung infection). Hence why it is so important to get the annual vaccination.
But bear in mind, those aforementioned groups of people could be put at risk from yourself if you are carrying the virus. You may have the typical attitude like I used to have when I was younger.... “I’m not worried about getting poorly... there’s no way I’ll catch the flu!” But unfortunately, each and every one of us could easily catch the flu and spread it to someone else. Think of those vulnerable people. Is it worth it?
I am especially conscious myself as I visit many elderly people within the community and residential care/nursing homes, as well as those within the other at risk groups above.
🛈 Statistics in the UK. 🛈
The most recent statistics for the UK as at 9th January 2019 show that since September 2018, 1,251,499 people have had their flu vaccination (source: https://psnc.org.uk/services-commissioning/advanced-services/flu-vaccination-service/flu-vaccination-statistics/flu-vaccination-data-for-2018-19/)
Put that into proportion of how many people actually live in the UK. So just over 1 million people got the vaccination, with the latest statistics showing that there’s approximately 66 million people living in the UK (source: https://countrymeters.info/en/United_Kingdom_(UK) ).
It’s a shocking comparison really 😞
You may question do you really need the vaccine?
For the doubters out there, research has found that the flu vaccine will help prevent you getting the flu. However, it’s not a 100% guarantee that you will be flu free as it cannot stop all flu viruses. However, the research shows that for those who have had the vaccination and got the flu afterwards, it generally will be a milder form and not last as long as it would otherwise have done. It is advisable to get the vaccine annually as new vaccines are produced each year due to change in flu strains, etc.
Where can you get the flu jab?
Flu is often seen as something people get around the Christmas period, but it certainly isn’t restricted to just then. The good news is, you can still get your vaccine now. It’s available at your GP surgery. Some midwifery services offer it if you’re pregnant. Some pharmacies also offer it. Don’t worry if you aren’t eligible for the vaccination on the NHS, you can pay a small fee for the jab at certain pharmacies. I know my local Asda pharmacy offers the flu jab for £7 and it should be offered at many others across the country - a small price to pay if it means saving a life.
When to get your flu jab.
Flu usually starts December onwards, sometimes earlier, so it’s best to get it sooner, from the beginning of October to the end of November. However, it’s not too late to get it still. Check with your GP surgery or pharmacy who I’m sure can advise. This is especially vital for pregnant women who may not have been pregnant at the beginning of the vaccination period.
Finally....some flu infection prevention tips and a plea to you...
Please think of others and get vaccinated, if not only for yourself and your health, do it for those vulnerable people around you.
Lynn, Podiatrist in Sunderland xx
Any queries or to make a foot health appointment, please contact me here.