The FLU season may well be upon us, but you can minimise the risk of infection by taking a few simple steps.
Free vaccinations are widely available for ‘at risk' groups of children and adults with chronic diseases such as heart defects and diabetes. They are also available to people over the age of 65 years.
Last year saw NHS Greater Glasgow almost reach the national vaccination uptake target of 70%, and this year staff are aiming even higher.
Dr Syed Ahmed, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, said: "Although flu is simply a nasty experience for the majority of people, for some it can lead to far more serious complications including pneumococcal infection."
Those receiving the flu vaccination from their GP this year, can also request a second injection for protection against pneumococcal infection. Unlike flu vaccine which is given yearly, only one pneumococcal vaccine is required for lifelong protection for the over 65s. "
So who is eligible for the flu and pneumococcal vaccines?
Vaccinations are recommended for people with:
· chronic heart complaints;
· chronic kidney disease;
· lowered immunity due to disease;
· no spleen or splenic dysfunction;
· medication such as steroids and cancer treatments.
Vaccination is also recommended for people aged 65 and over. The Flu vaccine on its own is also recommended for people working in places where there is a risk of flu spreading quickly, such as nursing homes and hospital wards.
So what are the common symptoms of flu that the public must look out for?
Dr Ahmed said: "For people of all ages flu usually produces fever, shivering, muscle aching, tiredness and sore ears, which can see sufferers bed-ridden for several days."
He stressed however that since many of these symptoms can be difficult to assess in infants, an influenza-affected child may only appear irritable and may suffer vomiting and/or diarrhoea.
But what about those who aren't vaccinated and who experience flu-like symptoms?
Dr Ahmed said: "For children, my advice is that they should not go to school or nursery but should stay at home, drink plenty of fluids and take paracetamol or aspirin/ibuprofen to lower body temperature (although aspirin should not be given to children under the age of 16).
"If a parent is worried about a child's condition, or if symptoms last longer than four to five days, they should seek help from their local GP. "
Adults who suspect the onset of flu can receive expert advice over-the-counter from local pharmacists, or call NHS 24's special flu helpline on 08000 28 28 16.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
· Pneumococcal infection can lead to a range of illnesses such as pneumonia (chest infection), blood poisoning and a form of meningitis. Symptoms may include fever, shaking chills, headache and confusion but vaccination can prevent serious forms of these diseases.
For further information, contact: Caroline Jarvie on 0141 201 4447