‘Ferry across the Mersey’ legend Gerry Marsden is backing an NHS initiative and is encouraging thousands of residents across the region to become immunised against flu.
NHS Merseyside launched its annual flu vaccination campaign earlier this month. Everyone aged 65 and over, all pregnant women and people of any age with health problems are eligible for a free flu jab.
Over 345,000 Merseysiders, who are at increased risk of serious illness from flu, are being urged to visit their surgery to protect themselves from becoming unwell.
Dr Emer Coffey, associate director of public health for Liverpool said: “Although most people recover from flu in a few days or a week, flu can cause serious illness like bronchitis and pneumonia in older people, pregnant women, people of any age with other illnesses (such as chest or heart disease, or diabetes) and newborn babies. This can lead to a stay in hospital and can be life threatening, especially in the elderly and those in poor health.”
Gerry Marsden, added: “Flu can be very nasty and I always make sure I do whatever I can to stay healthy over the winter months, particularly with our busy tour schedule. But most importantly, I know that I need to protect myself as I get older and each year I visit my local surgery to have the flu jab. It’s simple, free and it then gives me peace of mind that I’m protected for the winter months.”
Last winter’s seasonal flu campaign saw more eligible people in Merseyside taking up the offer of a flu jab than ever before. Over three quarters of those aged 65 and over (77 per cent) and over half of patients with underlying health conditions were vaccinated.
However, the flu vaccine changes every year to fight the latest strains of flu, so it’s critical for eligible people to be vaccinated every single year.
Now, NHS Merseyside is launching its Flu Safe campaign and thousands of eligible residents will see their flu vaccination reminder letters arrive on their door steps inviting them to receive their free jab.
Dr Coffey added: “Flu is very unpredictable and has struck Australia and other countries in the southern hemisphere earlier this year, so it’s important that people who need the flu jab get it as soon as possible.”
The number of pregnant women receiving the vaccine has also soared. Due in part to the hard work of GPs and midwives, a record 5,124 pregnant women were vaccinated in Merseyside last winter.
Lynne Eastham, Head of Midwifery at Ormskirk and District General Hospital said: “It’s incredibly important for all pregnant women to have their flu vaccination. They are five times more likely to be admitted to hospital and seven times more likely to be admitted into critical care as a result of flu and we are urging all pregnant women to have the flu jab to protect themselves and their baby. The vaccination doesn’t contain the ‘live’ virus so it cannot give you the flu and is completely safe so if you are pregnant, you simply need to contact your doctor, nurse or midwife to arrange the free vaccination.”
This year all pregnant women from 28 weeks are also recommended to receive a vaccine to protect their babies from whooping cough. Eligible women should ask about this when they’re having their flu jab.
Who should have the flu vaccination? The flu jab is recommended if you are: pregnant;aged 65 years or over;anyone of any age, even if they feel healthy, who has any of the underlying health conditions:
o A heart problem
o A chest complaint or breathing difficulties, including bronchitis or emphysema
o A kidney disease
o Lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (such as steroid medication or cancer treatment)
o A liver disease
o Had a stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA)
o A neurological condition, for example multiple sclerosis (MS) or cerebral palsy
o A problem with your spleen, for example sickle cell disease, or you have had your spleen removed
o Living in a residential or nursing home
o The main carer for an older or disabled person
o A frontline health or social care worker
Once vaccinated, you will be protected throughout the winter period. If you are at risk, simply contact your local doctor or practice nurse now to get your flu vaccination. It’s quick, safe and free for those most at risk from the virus.
For further information visit www.nhs.co.uk/flu