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People of West Cheshire urged to get flu vaccine

Flu kills 8,000 people in England every year – more than eight times the annual total of measles, mumps and rubella combined.

Now, a leading West Cheshire GP has urged people with long-term conditions, older people, pregnant women and children to protect themselves and those around them by getting the free flu vaccine.

Dr Chris Ritchieson, the Chair of NHS West Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group, warned that flu can lead to serious complications – particularly for those with underlying health conditions.

“Flu can be very serious and is different to a common cold,” he said. “It is highly infectious and can land you in hospital if you have lung, heart or kidney conditions or a neurological condition like multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy.

“The flu vaccine is free if you are among the most at risk and I would urge everyone to get in touch with their GP practice and make sure they are protected. As well as getting your vaccine, you can help reduce the spread of flu by regularly washing your hands, particularly after sneezing or coughing.”

The flu vaccine is available for free to adults aged 65 and over, who are more vulnerable and may suffer more than most if they catch flu. Speak to your GP if you are the main carer of an older or disabled person as you may also be eligible.

Flu can also be nasty for young children – who are often more likely to pass it on to more vulnerable family members. For most children, the free vaccine is not an injection, just a quick and easy nasal spray. Children aged 2 and 3 receive the vaccine through their GP and children in reception and school years 1-5 receive it in school.

Pregnancy naturally weakens the body’s immune system and, as a result, flu can cause serious complications for you and your baby. The free flu jab is the safest way to protect you and your baby.

Dr Frank Joseph, Divisional Medical Director at the Countess of Chester Hospital, said: “I would urge everybody who is eligible to receive a free flu jab to go and get it. Flu can quickly become a very serious condition and spread rapidly from person to person. The more people that have the jab, the less likely we are to spread it and the less likely people are to become ill and require hospitalisation at a time of year when other illnesses that cannot be prevented are also increasing.

“At the Countess we have been encouraging our staff to get the vaccine to help protect themselves, their patients and their loved ones and so far have seen great results with more than 2,300 staff getting their flu jab. It is in all our interests and our collective responsibility to do all we can to protect our community this winter.”

For more information about the flu vaccine, go online at: www.nhs.uk