Those aged 65 or over in Wales are urged to protect themselves against flu

People aged 65 or over are being advised to get vaccinated against influenza (‘flu’) soon for best protection this winter.
Flu can be very serious for older people, and the annual ‘Beat Flu’ immunisation programme is now underway throughout Wales, encouraging individuals most at risk of serious complications from flu to get protected with a free flu vaccination. As well as older people this also includes pregnant women and those with certain long term health conditions as these groups are at high risk of complications if they catch flu.
Older people, and the carers of those whose health may be at risk if the carer becomes ill, are being advised about the dangers of flu with a clear message from Public Health Wales to “Beat flu before it beats you!”
Last year in Wales around a third of the people in Wales aged 65 and over missed out on getting their flu vaccine.
Ian Thomas, Chief Executive of the older people’s charity Age Cymru, said: “As part of our annual Spread the Warmth campaign, we’d like to urge people who are aged 65 or over and others in ‘at-risk’ groups, to take up the opportunity to have their annual flu vaccination soon because flu comes around every winter and can be a serious and potentially debilitating illness, especially for older people.
“People who care for an older or disabled person should also have a flu vaccination, to help protect themselves as well as the people they are looking after.
“If you are aged 65 or over, or have a long-term health condition, you are more at risk of complications from flu than other people and it can also make any existing health condition worse. Flu can even lead to a hospital stay.
“If you haven’t had it yet this winter, then make sure you get the flu vaccination soon – the virus changes every year, so you also need to get a flu jab every year. This should be part of your annual getting ready for winter routine if you are aged 65 or over, or in an ‘at-risk’ group.”
Annual flu immunisation is the single best way to protect against catching or spreading flu. It is available to people in eligible groups free of charge via their GP surgery, and also at many community pharmacies.
The flu virus spreads easily via droplets which are sprayed into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Direct contact with contaminated hands or surfaces can also spread infection. It can spread rapidly, especially in closed communities such as hospitals, residential homes and schools.
If in doubt as to whether you are in a risk group, check with your GP surgery or community pharmacy, or you can check online at www.beatflu.org.

All children aged two and three on 31 August 2016 are also being offered protection with a nasal spray flu vaccine at their GP surgery, and children aged four to seven years old are being offered the vaccine at school.

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