The weather is warming up, the sun is peeking out from behind the clouds, and dare we say it, spring is hinting at an early arrival. So you’d be forgiven for thinking that winter, and all that comes with it, is over. Unfortunately flu is still very much in season, and it can still have a devastating impact if you catch it.
So far, 2,182 people have been admitted to intensive care and high dependency units since October – and, sadly 195 people have died – with adults living with long term conditions seen to be particularly at risk. So flu has once again made the headlines, highlighting just how serious it can be.
Despite the increase in hospital admissions, GPs have seen fewer people coming into the surgery because of flu this year. So it may feel as though there is less of it around, which is possibly true. However it would appear that for some of those who have caught the flu this year, they have been very ill indeed.
How to protect yourself
But the good news is it’s easy to protect yourself from this nasty illness.
Everyone aged 65 and over is entitled to have a flu jab, which protects against the virus and boosts your immunity to help keep you fighting fit. Carers and people with certain medical conditions can also get the flu jab for free. It is a good idea to contact your GP or pharmacy and arrange a vaccination. And it’s certainly worthwhile taking the time – as we age our immune systems just don’t work as well as they used to, meaning we become less able to fight off viruses and infections. Flu really can take any of us by surprise and knock us for six in later life.
Almost 30% of people aged 65 and over are yet to have the flu vaccine this year – and it’s certainly not too late to protect yourself.
As we turn down our thermostats and pack away those winter woollies, the last thing any of us want or need is to be is ill with the flu. So now is the time to take action and ensure you can head into spring in the best of health.
Take flu seriously
Flu isn't just a bad cold - it can increase your risk of more serious illness.
Top tips for staying well even in the mildest of winters
- Get the Flu Jab – “Prevention is better than cure, and the increase in flu activity means it is even more important to get your flu jab if you in an at-risk group.” So says Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies.
- Maintain good hand hygiene – it’s easy to reach for that biscuit without giving a thought to the germs you’ve picked up during the day. Regularly washing your hands is a good way to help prevent illness.
- Call 111 – if you think you’ve got the flu and you are aged 65 or over, call 111. They can provide you with advice and arrange a call from a medical professional if you need it.