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Cumbria’s top public health doctor is urging people who qualify for a free flu jab to be protected before the virus strikes.
Research from Australia, where seasonal flu hits earlier than the UK, shows the virus will reach its peak in places like Cumbria, early in the New Year
New figures show that, so far in Cumbria, Allerdale has some of the highest vaccination rates amongst those who qualify for this year’s seasonal flu jab.
Across the county, take-up of this year’s vaccine has been good but doctors are warning that time is running out to get protected and prevent Christmas and New Year turning into a time to remember for all the wrong reasons.
If someone has a long-term health condition, is over 65 or pregnant they can become very ill and develop complications such as pneumonia which can be fatal. This is why people at risk of becoming very ill are offered a free flu vaccination every year.
Each year the flu vaccine is designed to protect against the strains of flu circulating in that particular winter.
The following groups all qualify for a seasonal flu vaccine and should contact their GP surgery to arrange if they have not already had it:
- People aged 65 and older.
- Pregnant women (both mother and baby will be protected).
- People living in a residential or nursing home.
- People with pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, respiratory problems, bronchitis, liver disease, neurological disease such as Parkinson or motor neurone disease, or a weakened immune system due to disease (such as HIV/AIDS) or treatment (such as for cancer) .
- Main carers for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill.
- And healthcare or social care professionals directly involved in patient care (to be arranged by employers).
Professor John Ashton, Cumbria’s Director of Public Health, wants more Cumbrians to get protected. He said: “We are currently seeing a big uptake in this year’s seasonal flu vaccination in Cumbria but for those who haven’t yet had the jab, the clock is ticking.
“The pattern of seasonal flu in Australia suggest we are going see a big upsurge in the virus very early in the New Year. It is critically important for people who qualify for the jab to visit their GP and get protected now.
“Flu can be a serious and, in some cases, deadly virus. The vaccine is safe, thoroughly tested and cannot give you colds or flu.”
Influenza vaccination rates by locality (September-October 2011)
Number Number %Vaccinated
Allerdale 23222 14956 64%
Carlisle 19514 12328 63%
Copeland 12208 6872 56%
Eden 11591 6125 53%
Furness 16730 10698 64%
South Lakeland 25871 15677 61%
Cumbria 109136 66656 61%
Under 65 in 'At Risk Categories'
Number Number %Vaccinated
Allerdale 10179 4917 48%
Carlisle 10815 4940 46%
Copeland 7193 3216 45%
Eden 4797 2155 45%
Furness 9310 4209 45%
South Lakeland 9551 4559 48%
Cumbria 51845 23996 46%