East of England residents urged to protect themselves from flu

PUBLISHED: 13:21 09 October 2009 | UPDATED: 07:24 30 May 2010

DO NOT underestimate seasonal flu - that is the message to East of England residents urging them to remember to get their annual seasonal flu jab. This year s annual seasonal flu vaccination campaign was launched today (Friday) by the Government s Departm

DO NOT underestimate seasonal flu - that is the message to East of England residents urging them to remember to get their annual seasonal flu jab.

This year's annual seasonal flu vaccination campaign was launched today (Friday) by the Government's Department of Health.

The campaign will encourage people in the East of England who are at risk of seasonal flu to protect themselves by getting free flu jabs.

Everyone aged 65 and over is routinely offered the jab, as are younger people with long-term conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, serious kidney and liver disease.

Around 15 million people in the UK have the jab, which must be administered every year as it is altered each year to match the seasonal flu strains in circulation.

Director of Flu Resilience at NHS East of England, Dr Linda Sheridan, said: "We encourage all eligible people in the East of England to take advantage of the free seasonal flu jab to protect themselves this winter. For those under 65 with long term conditions such as diabetes or heart conditions, remember that even if you feel well you are at increased risk of seasonal flu and the jab is your best protection."

Avoid seasonal flu

Seasonal flu, also known as influenza, is a highly infectious illness caused by a virus. The virus, which is different from swine flu (H1N1), changes every year as does the vaccine, so it is important that those at risk ensure they receive the jab to protect themselves.

Every year approximately 8,000 people suffer seasonal flu-related deaths in the winter months in England and Wales.

The best way for East of England residents to avoid seasonal flu is to get immunised, but in addition people can protect themselves by practising good hand hygiene. This means carrying tissues, covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue, disposing of the tissue after one use and cleaning hands as soon as possible.

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