Critical care doctor urges North Wales public to get flu vaccine this winter
A leading critical care doctor has urged people in North Wales to get their flu vaccine this winter.
Wrexham Maelor’s Dr Andy Campbell thanked the public for their support during the Covid-19 pandemic – but said he was again asking people to protect themselves and their loved ones from serious illness.
The flu virus can be deadly and typically results in dozens of admissions to critical care units across North Wales each year.
Dr Campbell said vaccination would help the public stay healthy and relieve pressure on local NHS services.
“I’m asking, as we come into another winter, that you do the best you can to prepare yourself,” he said.
“Influenza is still a big problem in hospitals, and will be again this winter. So please go out and get your vaccination.
“It’s going to help so much to take the pressure off the NHS, and it will help you stay healthy and stay fit.”
The plea comes amid warnings Wales could face a severe flu season for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to health officials, the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions means viruses are returning in higher numbers as we mix more and our lives return to normal.
Experts at Public Health Wales say cases of flu are already being detected in Wales. It is thought the flu virus could be as widespread and severe as 2017, when 16,500 people were diagnosed by their GP and 2,500 people were hospitalised throughout Wales.
This summer, Australia’s flu season hit earlier than usual with the highest case levels in five years.
Free flu vaccines for priority groups are available from GP practices and community pharmacies, while people eligible for the autumn Covid-19 booster are now being invited to receive their vaccination at one of the health board’s mass vaccination centres.
PHW said vaccination helps to prevent vulnerable people becoming seriously unwell, slows the spread of the viruses in our communities, and protects the NHS.
With the NHS facing serious winter pressures and Covid-19 still in circulation, they said it is more important than ever that people who are eligible for the vaccines take up the opportunity this winter.
Eluned Morgan, Minister for Health and Social Services, said: “We are encouraging everyone to get both their jabs this winter, when flu and COVID will be at their peak – to protect themselves, those around them and the NHS during what will be a busy time for healthcare in Wales.”
Public Health Wales has launched a national campaign to encourage people eligible for flu and Covid-19 vaccines to get protection against serious illness this winter.
It said vaccination is particularly important for those who are older, pregnant, or are more vulnerable because of underlying health conditions. Frontline healthcare and care workers are also encouraged to take up the vaccines to help protect their patients.
Children aged between two and 16 will be offered a painless nasal spray flu vaccine. PHW said protecting children against flu will help to prevent them becoming seriously ill, and protect older and more vulnerable members of their families and the community from the virus.
All schoolchildren from reception to year 11 will be offered the vaccine at school, while two and three-year-olds can receive it at their GP surgery.
To help stop flu, Covid-19 and other viruses spreading, have also been advised to remember to “catch it, bin it, kill it” – always cough or sneeze into a tissue, dispose of the tissue after use, and then wash your hands or use hand sanitizer to kill any viruses.
To help keep Wales safe, the Welsh Government recommends:
- wearing a mask in crowded indoor spaces and healthcare settings
- meeting outdoors rather than indoors where possible
- staying at home and avoiding contact with others if you have symptoms
More information about how to get the flu and autumn Covid-19 booster vaccines can be found here.
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