Health officials are urging those eligible for free flu vaccines to ‘get vaccinated’ as latest figures show flu is now beginning to circulate in Wales.
Figures released this week have shown that consultations in general practices for flu like illness have increased, along with laboratory reports of influenza virus.
Public Health Wales is urging those in ‘at risk’ groups to get their free flu vaccine to protect themselves against the illness. The public are also being reminded to take the proper precautions to help reduce the chances of flu spreading.
Anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms is encouraged to follow three simple steps to prevent the illness from spreading: Catch it. Bin it. Kill it.
‘Catch it’ – always cough or sneeze into a tissue
‘Bin it’ - dispose of the tissue after use
‘Kill it’ - then wash your hands or use hand sanitizer to kill any flu viruses
Dr Richard Roberts, Head of the Vaccine Preventable Disease Programme at Public Health Wales, said:
“It’s not too late to get a flu vaccine. Once flu is circulating widely, apart from vaccination, following ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ and staying away from others while you are ill are the only methods that can help prevent spread.”
“Anyone with flu-like symptoms is advised to follow the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ advice: always use a tissue to catch sneezes, throw away used tissues where germs can linger and always kill germs by washing your hands with soap and water, or cleaning them with a sanitising gel. If you have children, you should help them to follow this advice.
“In a household where there is a case of flu, you should clean hard surfaces such as door handles and worktops regularly using a normal household cleaning product.”
Those outside the ‘at risk’ groups are also being urged to be vigilant to threat of flu. Anyone meeting in large groups of people or travelling over the next few months are encouraged to remember hand washing.
It is recommended that anyone who is unwell with flu-like symptoms stays away from vulnerable individuals, such as those with long-term health conditions, the elderly and very young children. Any individual that feels unwell with flu-like symptoms can get advice on treatment from the NHS Direct Wales website at www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk or the helpline on 0845 46 47.
Dr Roberts continues: “As we haven’t seen a serious outbreak of flu for a number of years, people can begin to become complacent and forget how serious the illness can be.
Flu activity often peaks in January or February and can last into early spring, therefore it is important to act to avoid ill-health this year.”
For more information please visit www.publichealthwales.org or www.beatflu.org
Source: Velindre Cancer Centre