More people died from flu and pneumonia than those who died with breast cancer or prostate cancer in 2009. Last year’s winter flu outbreak resulted in more than 600 deaths in the UK, and thousands more people died with flu as a contributory factor.
The NHS in Sussex is today urging people at risk of flu to get protected and have the vaccine.
Four groups have been identified as being most at risk:
- Pregnant women
- People with long term conditions (including diabetes to asthma, heart disease and multiple sclerosis)
- People over 65 years
Dr Andrew Foulkes, Medical Director at NHS Sussex, said: “Even a mild flu season can contribute to more than 2,000 deaths each winter across the country – the majority of which could be prevented if those people had been vaccinated against the seasonal flu virus.
“Flu is not the same as getting a cold and the effects of seasonal flu are often underestimated. Some people are more at risk from flu and need the vaccine because they are not able to fight off flu as easily as others. It can result in serious complications which require hospital treatment and can have devastating consequences.
“We don’t know the impact the flu season will have on everyone this winter, but it is never too early to think about protecting yourself and your family and friends.
“Thousands of people across Sussex are eligible for the free seasonal flu vaccine. If you are over 65 or in a clinical at-risk group, for example you may have a heart problem, diabetes or going through cancer treatment, if you are pregnant or if you are a carer, you can get vaccinated for free at your local GP practice.
“The vaccine is available now across Sussex and is the best form of protection for you, your family and your friends. Please talk to your GP or local pharmacist to find out more, and if you are pregnant please talk to your midwife.”
There are additional ways people can protect themselves and those around them. Good hand hygiene - the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ technique – reduces the spread of germs. 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 with soap and water or an alcohol hand gel.
Notes to Editors:
· In 2009, 11,100 men and 15,700 women died from influenza and pneumonia. 10,300 women died with breast cancer and 9,400 men died with prostate cancer – figures from the Office for National Statistics.
· This week (10-14 October) is Immunisation Week in Sussex, which aims to promote vaccinations and immunisations to people across the region in particular the teenage and pre-school booster.
- More information is available from http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Flu-jab/Pages/Introduction.aspx
Your four local NHS primary care trusts (PCTs) have joined forces to become NHS Sussex. The Sussex PCT Cluster represents NHS West Sussex, NHS East Sussex Downs and Weald, NHS Hastings and Rother, and NHS Brighton and Hove.
NHS Sussex is committed to commissioning high quality healthcare services for the people of Sussex. We also support our emerging clinical commissioning groups as they prepare to take on commissioning responsibilities in the future, as well as maintaining relationships with partner organisations.
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