NEIL Hamilton, UKIP Leader in Wales and AM for Mid & West Wales, is urging everyone eligible for a flu vaccination to get protected.

Mr Hamilton, Party Spokesman for Culture, is urging people to take advantage of the free vaccine on offer.

He said:

“The Beat Flu campaign is underway throughout Wales, to offer flu vaccines to individuals most at risk of serious complications from influenza.  My message to them is to make sure it’s at the top of your To-Do list this autumn.

“Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and others around you against flu and I encourage those at high risk to make an appointment with their GP, or go to their community pharmacy and get themselves protected before it is too late. The young, the old and those in ‘high risk’ occupations are all covered by the free vaccine.”

The annual NHS Wales Beat Flu campaign, which encourages everyone eligible for flu vaccination to get protected, is now underway.

The free vaccine is being made more widely available to now include all primary school children and pre-schoolers aged two and three. For the first time the vaccine is also being offered to staff with regular client contact working in residential care and nursing homes this winter.

Annual flu vaccination is the best protection against catching or spreading flu, a potentially life-threatening infection. Every year over two thirds of those aged 65 and over and almost half of people in at-risk groups in Wales get their flu jab.

Over 820,000 flu vaccines were given by NHS Wales last year.

Developments for this year include:

* All primary school children are now eligible for a free nasal spray flu vaccine, as well as children aged two and three years (age on August 31 2018).

* Staff in adult care homes who have regular contact with residents can have a free NHS flu vaccine at many community pharmacies. This will help protect care home residents who are more vulnerable to complications from flu and reduce the spread of flu.

* To improve effectiveness different flu vaccines recommended for different age groups are being introduced this year

Dr Richard Roberts, Head of the Vaccine Preventable Disease Programme at Public Health Wales, said: “Each year new flu viruses circulate, causing many people to be ill and some to face life-threatening complications. And flu vaccines are changed each year to try to match the flu viruses circulating in order to give the best protection.

“Last winter there were 2,680 patients with confirmed flu in hospitals – 192 in intensive care units. As well as the impact on these individuals, this places an additional pressure on the health service at a busy time of year.

“People with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems are over ten times more likely to suffer severe outcomes from influenza and we want to see even more people protected this year.”

While most NHS flu vaccines are given in GP surgeries, it is also available for adults in many community pharmacies across Wales.

Flu is a respiratory illness caused by a virus that affects the lungs and airways. Symptoms generally come on suddenly, and can include fever, chills, headache, cough, body aches and fatigue.

Flu is spread via droplets which are sprayed into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Direct contact with contaminated hands or surfaces can also spread infection. It can spread rapidly, especially in closed communities such as hospitals, residential homes and schools.

Find out more by visiting www.beatflu.org or www.curwchffliw.org or finding Beat Flu or Curwch Ffliw on Twitter and Facebook.

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