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Winter flu warning for older people

A leading welsh charity is warning that more elderly and vulnerable people could die unnecessarily this winter because of a twin threat from rising fuel bills and a reluctance of some people to get winter flu jabs.

Today, SWALEC and Southern Electric's parent company SSE announced that it was increasing it's annual energy bills for 600,000 electricity customers and 400,000 gas customers across Wales

The average bill will rise by 8.2% from next month.

This news comes as experts warn that a third of pensioners risk becoming seriously ill because they don't get their winter flu jab, as Megan Boot reports.

Winter campaign encourages people to visit pharmacy

The Winter Wellness campaign is being run throughout October, and encourages older people in particular to visit their local pharmacy to find out how to stay well over the winter months.

It coincides with the start of NHS flu vaccinations for over-65s - and they are part of the checklist targeted by the 714 community pharmacies throughout Wales involved:

  • Flu and flu jabs
  • Smoking and smoking cessation services
  • High blood pressure and medicines checks
  • Long-term conditions and medicines reviews
  • Hospital stays and medicine reconciliation on returning home

More people die in Wales in the winter than in summer months, as illustrated by figures from the Office for National Statistics:

  • There were 1,300 excess winter deaths in Wales in 2011-12
  • 80 per cent of those winter deaths were people over 65 years of age

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Campaign: Not enough older people getting flu jab

A new winter health campaign is warning that a third of older people are at risk of falling seriously ill, because they will not get their flu jab.

The Winter Wellness campaign is being run by all Welsh health boards, and co-ordinated by Public Health Wales, Community Pharmacy Wales and Age Cymru.

The campaign highlights how many older people are not getting flu vaccinations. Credit: PA

It aims to raise awareness of the impact that winter can have on the health of older people and those at extra risk due to health conditions.

The campaign wants to encourage people to visit their local pharmacy - and getting the flu jab is the top issue it is targeting.

Figures from last year show 32 per cent of people over the age of 65 in Wales did not get a flu vaccination.

50 per cent of people in other at-risk groups did not get vaccinated.

Two dead after flu outbreak in Swansea nursing homes

Patients at two nursing homes in Swansea are being offered the drug Tamiflu, after a sharp rise in the number of cases of flu in the homes.

Eight patients at one home have tested positive for Influenza A. Of these, five people have been hospitalised and two people have died.

A further nine patients and three staff have been unwell with symptoms of flu.

Thirty of the 38 patients at the nursing home have been offered Tamiflu.

At the second nursing home, 12 out of 46 patients have been ill with flu-like symptoms and nine people have tested positive for Influenza A. One person has been admitted to hospital.

Flu circulates in the UK between October and April and is not uncommon to see outbreaks in closed communities like nursing homes, where the disease can spread easily.

However, in elderly people flu can be more serious and therefore we have treated patients at this nursing home with Tamiflu as a precaution

– Dr Jörg Hoffmann, Public Health Wales