Call for Suffolk’s most vulnerable to get their FREE flu vaccination

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With winter well and truly here, Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service is joining the fight against flu by calling on thousands of Suffolk residents who qualify to get their free flu vaccination.

Pregnant women and people with an underlying health condition qualify for a free jab but typically, fewer than half are vaccinated each year.

For the first time, Fire and Rescue is joining forces with the county’s public health team and others to share the message that there is still time to get the flu vaccination this winter.

By distributing dedicated leaflets, some of which include room thermometers, and sharing a short promotional film featuring on call firefighter Abigail Dowding, the Fire Service aims to encourage those who can be most susceptible to the worst effects of winter flu to get vaccinated.

Cllr Matthew Hicks, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Protection said: “Our fire service has a crucial role in our communities, not only fighting fires but also when it comes to supporting people to keep safe and well. I’m delighted that we are supporting the flu campaign this year by encouraging people to get vaccinated, especially those in the most vulnerable groups who are eligible for a free flu jab. It is so important at this time of year, that we all do what we can, to spread the word.”

Fire teams will be promoting the message as part of their regular home safety visits in local communities.

The flu vaccination is widely recognised as an effective way to reduce harm from flu. It reduces the risk of serious illness, hospitalisation and even death.

Cllr Tony Goldson, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health said: “Flu is a particularly unpleasant illness that generally affects people over the colder months. Those at particular risk, because they are pregnant, have a health condition or are over 65 years of age, as well as carers all qualify for a free vaccination, which I would strongly encourage. It’s a simple but vitally important way of protecting your health, and also reduces the spread of flu to friends and loved ones.”

People eligible for free vaccinations are:

* Carers

* Pregnant women

* People aged six months to 65 with an underlying health condition such as a heart problem, breathing difficulties, kidney disease, lower immune system due to disease or treatment, liver disease, stroke, diabetes, a neurological condition, for example multiple sclerosis, an issue that affects the spleen or for those who are seriously overweight

* People over 65 years of age

* Children of aged 2,3, 4 years and school years 1, 2, 3 are offered the vaccination as a nasal spray.

* Everyone else can arrange for a paid-for vaccination through GP-organised flu clinics and some participating community pharmacies.

* Suffolk’s healthy lifestyle providers, OneLife Suffolk, will be working closely with local GP practices in parts of the county to promote the stay well over winter message.

* The most common symptoms of flu are fever, chills, headache, aches and pains in the joints and muscles, and extreme tiredness. Healthy individuals usually recover within two to seven days, but the effects can be more severe for those in vulnerable groups.

* Flu is caused by influenza viruses that infect the windpipe and lungs. Because it is caused by viruses and not bacteria, antibiotics won’t treat it. The best way of avoiding flu is by having the vaccination, but it helps to practise good hygiene such as covering the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and regularly washing hands.