Winter Is Coming
You may have noticed the sudden drawing in of the nights, the air getting colder and a layer of frost on your car in the morning. Yes this is the season, dreaded by many but unavoidable. Flu season to the Virologists or winter to the rest of us is coming and we need to prepare.
Between October & April each year, people across the UK are affected by the flu virus. During the 2018- 2019 flu season in the UK, an estimated 615 individuals died either as a result of contracting flu or the resulting complications. (GOV.UK)
However, compare last year’s fatalities to the UK figures of the 2013-2014 flu season, where an estimated 11,000 deaths occurred, the situation has significantly improved.
Scary stuff isn’t it?
For many people in the UK, Flu is an inconvenience that passes in a couple of weeks but for the young, vulnerable and elderly, flu can be very dangerous and lead to other serious conditions. The vast majority of cases in the UK are either Type A or Type B strains of flu. Both strains are known to cause severe illness that can last a number of weeks or potentially longer in those with weaker immune systems. (NHS)
It is these strains that are covered by the Flu vaccines offered by the NHS and local pharmacies for a small cost.
The US Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) have conducted a number of different studies to establish the effectiveness of the Influenza vaccine. Through these studies, it was reported that a flu vaccine has the potential to reduce the risk of infection by between 40% & 60% depending on the age, fitness levels and health of the individual person. (CDC)
Many individuals are under the impression that if they have been vaccinated once, they are protected for life. This is unfortunately not the case as the influenza virus regularly undergoes genetic changes and mutations that render the current vaccine ineffective. (NHS/ CDC)
It is therefore very important to update your vaccine on a yearly basis to reduce your risks of contracting the latest strain.
Although vaccination cannot guarantee that you will not get influenza or prevent against type C strains, the risks are significantly reduced, giving you one less thing to worry about.
Did you know that if you work in a frontline support or care role, you are entitled to a free flu jab to protect yourself from most of the main type A & B strains?
If you are an Avalon support worker or Shared Lives carer, please contact your local office to find out how you can obtain your vaccine.