Health leaders in the Black Country are urging people at risk to get vaccinated as reports of the notorious 'Aussie Flu' are on the rise in the UK.
Called H3N2, it is a deadly strain of flu which has been causing serious problems in Australia. It is just one of several strains circulating in the UK, but is being attributed to particularly nasty cases of the virus. The H3N2 strain is covered by the current flu jab.
The flu vaccine is a lifesaver because flu is a highly contagious disease which for some people can lead to serious and sometimes life-threatening consequences.
Studies have proven the vaccine will help prevent flu in patients and reduce the length and strength of flu if caught. Flu viruses change every year so people need to update their vaccination each year to match the new virus.
Many vulnerable people in the area have now received their flu vaccine, but there are still some people with long term conditions, such as heart or breathing problems, and pregnant women who have yet to be protected from the deadly virus.
Dr Helen Hibbs, Clinical Accountable Officer at NHS Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Group, said:
“This particularly nasty strain of flu in Australia shows just how severe flu can be. The good news is that the flu vaccine is effective against the Australian flu and it is still not too late for people to get protected by having the flu vaccine.
“Flu is a serious, sometimes even life-threatening illness, which people can catch easily when it is circulating. Some people are more at risk from flu and need the vaccine because they are not able to fight off flu as easily as others. For these people, flu can often result in more serious complications which require hospital treatment. It can even be fatal in some cases. So, if you’re eligible, please make sure that you get the free flu jab from the NHS. You can be sure that it won’t make you ill, and it might save your life.
“As GPs have been vaccinating patients since September we would expect at this time that some surgery stocks may be running low, so if your GP can’t help please contact your local Pharmacy.
“People suffering with flu-like symptoms should catch coughs or sneezes in tissues and bin them immediately, wash their hands regularly with soap and warm water and frequently clean regularly used surfaces to stop the spread of flu.”
The winter campaign to inform patients about the flu vaccine and the right NHS service to use for different conditions and illnesses is being run by the four clinical commissioning groups across the Black Country in association with the Black Country Sustainability and Transformation Partnership.