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'Third of over 65's missed last year's flu vaccination'

Computer graphic of a flu virus. Credit: DPA DEUTSCHE PRESS-AGENTUR/DPA/PA Images

According to Public Health Wales a third of the over 65s in Wales missed out on getting protection against influenza last year, a virus which can and does kill every year, despite the vaccine being made free of charge as part of NHS care.

Pensioners are now being urged to protect themselves as early as possible and get their vaccine before influenza starts circulating in Wales.

People aged 65 or over are at a higher risk than the general population of developing complications of influenza so if they catch it they are more likely to become dangerously unwell. As we get older our immune systems also age and we become less effective at fighting infection which is why the flu vaccine is so important for everyone aged 65 and over.

Influenza is a serious illness caused by a virus that affects the lungs and airways. Symptoms generally come on suddenly and can include fever, chills, headache, cough, muscle aches and fatigue. So for many older people, influenza can be fatal.

It is worth remembering that Influenza cannot be treated with antibiotics. The vaccination also helps prevent the spread of the virus, so getting vaccinated helps keep you and those around you safe. It’s a win-win situation.

– Angharad Phillips, Age Cymru’s Health Initiatives Officer

More information here.

Flu 'has arrived in Wales'

Computer graphic of flu virus. Credit: DPA DEUTSCHE PRESS-AGENTUR/DPA/PA Images

Public Health Wales say flu has arrived in Wales.

Officials say it is unlikely that the virus is circulating widely yet, but 17 cases have so far been confirmed compared to six at the same time last year.

Statistics available so far this year are concerning – we have seen more cases of confirmed flu, but fewer people taking up the vaccine. This is a very worrying combination.

Having the flu vaccination remains the best protection against flu, and I am strongly and very seriously urging all those who are in key health risk groups to get it now, if they haven’t already done so. Most years the vaccine gives protection against three different types of flu virus and we have already identified these three types of flu in Wales this autumn.

– Dr Richard Roberts, Public Health Wales


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

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.

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