For fit and healthy people, the symptoms of flu may be mild and they will recover quickly. However, people living with long term conditions, older people and pregnant women are more likely to suffer severe complications.
The figures show that so far across Wales over 52 per cent of the over 65s have been vaccinated, and almost 34 per cent of those under 65 in the seasonal flu at-risk groups have received their seasonal flu vaccination.
The Assembly Government’s target is that 75 per cent of over 65s and those in the at-risk groups are vaccinated.
The peak months for flu are January and February, so there is still time for you to have the vaccine free of charge, if you:
- Are aged 65 or older;
- live in long stay care home/facility; or
- are an unpaid carer of an elderly or disabled person; or
are over the age of six months and have:
- a respiratory disease such as severe asthma or bronchitis;
- heart, renal or liver disease;
- neurological disease;
- a weakened immune system because of disease or treatment such as cancer;
- are pregnant.
This year pregnant women not in the high-risk groups who have not previously been vaccinated against H1N1 flu are being recommended to have the jab
Frontline health and social care workers are also encouraged to have the vaccine because they are at risk of flu and can pass it on to the vulnerable people being cared.
The vaccine changes each year to reflect the flu viruses that are circulating, so people who were vaccinated last year need to be vaccinated again this winter to stay protected. People in at-risk groups, even if they feel fit and healthy now, are being urged to contact their GP surgeries to arrange to receive the vaccination as early this winter as possible.
Dr Jewell said:
“Vaccines are one of the most effective public health interventions for saving lives and protecting our health. They are the simplest and safest way of protecting people from seasonal flu and its complications.
“Many people think that flu is just a bad cold, but in fact it is much worse and can lead to other severe health complications. People know that the vaccine is available for the over 65s, but many people living with other health conditions aren’t always aware that they can get vaccinated as well. It is really important that people who are in at-risk groups do get vaccinated.”
Dr Jewell added:
“The provisional figures for excess winter deaths last winter were published this week. Although there has been a decline from the previous year, they still remain high. Secondary conditions arising from flu such as respiratory conditions or chest infections do contribute to winter deaths, so the more we vaccinate, the fewer deaths we should see.”