Doctors are urging patients in Medway at risk of flu complications to have their free NHS vaccination this winter.
Free flu vaccinations are available at GP practices for:
• Everyone over 65
• All pregnant women
• Everyone over six months with serious long-term health problems, such as chronic respiratory, heart, kidney, liver or neurological disease, diabetes or a weakened immune system due to disease or treatment
• People who are the main carer for an older or disabled person.
Dr Nathan Nathan, Clinical Chair for Medway Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Flu can be very serious for some people which is why the NHS offers free vaccination to those who are most at risk of complications.

“These are people who are over 65 or have a serious health condition and pregnant women. Last year, across the country, we sadly saw some cases of people becoming very seriously ill with flu and some deaths.

“Being vaccinated against flu while pregnant protects the woman and her unborn child and gives the baby some protection in the first few months of life.

“I would urge everyone eligible for a free NHS flu vaccination to ensure they are immunised at their GP practice as soon as possible, to give themselves maximum protection against flu this winter.”

You can stop yourself catching flu in the first place or spreading it to others by being careful with your hygiene:
• Use tissues to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
• Put used tissues in a bin as soon as possible
• Wash your hands with soap and water
• Remember – Catch It, Bin It, Kill It.
Flu is a highly infectious viral illness, which is especially common in winter and spread by coughs and sneezes.
Symptoms include a high temperature or fever (38°C (100.4°F) or above) headache and general aches and pains, tiredness and sore throat.

You can also lose your appetite, feel nauseous, have a cough and feel so exhausted and unwell that you have to stay in bed and rest until you feel better.

If you have flu, you generally start to feel ill within a few days of being infected.

The flu virus is spread in the small droplets of fluid coughed or sneezed into the air by an infected person. These droplets can travel a metre or so and infect anyone within range who breathes them in.

Symptoms peak after two to three days and you should begin to feel much better after a week or so, although you may feel tired for much longer.

You are usually infectious – that is able to pass on flu to others – a day before your symptoms start, and for a further five or six days. Children and people with weaker immune systems, such as cancer patients, may remain infectious for longer.

Elderly people and anyone with certain long-term medical conditions are more likely to have a bad case of flu, and are also more likely to develop a serious complication such as a chest infection.

Visit www.nhs.uk for details of your local health services, including emergency services, out-of-hours, pharmacies, minor injuries units.

For health advice and to have your symptoms checked, phone NHS Direct 24-hours a day on 0845 4647 or visit www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk

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