Experts have warned that the flu epidemic could intensify in the face of the current’super cold’ weather conditions.
The Met Office said that shots of Arctic air would arrive on our shores in the next week. “meaning much colder and wetter weather”.
Today’s expert urged people to get their flu shots and stated that some groups have had low uptake.
UKHSA consultant epidemiologist, Dr Conall Watson, said that although some have been given their jabs already, the UK must go ‘one further this winter.
He said, “Temperatures have dropped and winter is coming.” Flu typically increases at this time of the year, so if you are eligible for an NHS flu vaccine and haven’t had it yet, please book as soon as you can.
“We have now met the World Health Organisation target for flu vaccine uptake in those aged 65 and over, but we need to go further to make sure more people are protected this winter.”
He urged those from Black Caribbean and Black African backgrounds to get their jabs, as they were less likely than others to do so.
“Flu can cause serious complications for people with conditions like diabetes and stroke that are more common in black ethnic groups”He said,
His comments follow the recent flu surveillance report which showed that flu-related hospital admissions as well as GP consultations have remained low.
Although the majority of age groups are more able to take up their responsibilities than in previous years, it is still higher for children between two and three years of age. However, school-aged children who are in school have a slightly lower rate than last year.
Winter months are when flu symptoms can be worsened.
Like with Covid it is important to practice good hygiene habits during winter.
Dr Watson advised that these are the best ways to protect yourself and your family from common seasonal illnesses.
“This means washing your hands regularly, using a tissue to catch coughs or sneezes and washing your hands afterwards, and staying away from others if you feel unwell”He said,
Experts warned previously of a “very difficult winter” with the threat of both flu and Covid.
Do you qualify for a flu jab free of charge?
People who are:
- are at least 50 (includes those who will turn 50 by 31 March 2022).
- Certain health conditions
- are pregnant
- are in long-stay residential care
- You may receive a caregiver’s allowance or be the primary carer for someone older or disabled who could be at risk of becoming sick.
- Living with someone more susceptible to infection (e.g. someone with HIV, someone who has had a transplant, or someone who is undergoing certain treatments for cancer or rheumatoidarthritis) is not an option.
- Frontline social or health care workers
Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency said those who catch both illnesses at the same time are twice as likely to die than patients with coronavirus alone.
Health chiefs also warned deaths from flu could reach 60,000 this winter after lockdowns and social distancing saw immunity plummet.
Boots UK’s Chief Pharmacist Marc Donovan said flu cases in the UK are highest between December and March.
He explained that the flu vaccine stimulates the immune response by producing antibodies against flu viruses.
“The antibodies stay in your body so that if you’re exposed to the flu virus naturally, your immune system can recognise it, attack it and prevent it from causing flu.”
The body can take between 10-14 days to build enough antibodies. This is why it’s important to get your flu jab before Christmas.
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