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Featured Thursday, Oct 4 2018

Flu on-line discussion forums for residents in East Berkshire

NHS commissioners in East Berkshire are holding two on-line discussion forums for anyone who may have questions or concerns about having their flu vaccination this year.

The first on-line discussion forum will take place on Monday 15 October between 7-8pm followed by a second forum on Friday 19th October between 12-1pm.

The forums are an opportunity for residents across Slough, Windsor, Ascot, Bracknell and Maidenhead to ask questions and discuss any concerns they may have with a lead clinician. Click here to register and take part.

Flu occurs every year and is a highly infectious disease with symptoms that come on very quickly. People who are at particular risk of problems if they catch flu are encouraged to have their flu vaccine every year by the NHS, free of charge. This includes those who are aged 65 or over; pregnant women; someone with a serious medical condition; and children aged 2-3 as well as those in Reception to Year 5 at school. People should also have the vaccination if they are a healthcare or social care worker, directly involved in patient care.

However, not everyone accepts the offer of having their vaccine as they may have concerns or questions which can in some cases be due to misinformation.

Flu vaccine figures for East Berkshire CCG last year (2017/18) showed a reduction in some groups, for example, in Bracknell and Ascot, 2.5% fewer children aged 2 years had the free flu nasal spray from their GP last year compared to the previous year 2016/17. Slough saw a reduction in four areas with the biggest reduction in uptake being in 3 year olds (-5.1%), followed by pregnant women (-4.9%) and under 65 at risk (-3.1%). The East Berkshire CCG and health partners are using this data to help encourage people in these groups to take up the vaccine this year, and be protected against the flu.

Associate Director for Nursing and Quality, Jo Greengrass, from the East Berkshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Ideally, we would like to see all those who are at particular risk of problems if they catch flu being vaccinated to help them keep well this winter.
“However, we understand that some people may have questions or concerns which is why we are really keen to speak to them.

“I’m hoping that these on-line forums, along with a presence out in the community, will give people the opportunity to engage with us so that we can allay any concerns as well as provide information concerning the vaccine which comes in the form of a nasal spray for children and an injection for others.

She added: “Getting your flu vaccine is easy. Simply call and book an appointment with your doctor, midwife or pharmacy, between now and December.

“Some GP surgeries across East Berkshire are offering flu clinics on certain dates/ times for those who are eligible for the free vaccine, so it would be worth you checking these details by either calling your practice or by visiting their website. Some surgeries are sending out invitations to attend these clinics.

“This year, a new vaccine is being offered to those aged 65 and over which has been shown to be more effective with older people and aims to give better protection which could reduce GP flu related consultations, hospital stays and prevent deaths in the worst cases. Your GP or Pharmacy are receiving this vaccine in three stages between now and November so if there is a slight delay, people should not worry as they will receive the vaccination in time.

“Also this year, Year 5 pupils at school (but not ten years or older) have been added to the cohort of children who are eligible for the free flu vaccine. Parents of children aged two to three should continue to have their vaccine by their GP.”

The most common symptoms of flu are fever, chills, headache, extreme tiredness and aches and pains in the joints and muscles. Healthy individuals usually recover within a week, but for some the disease can lead to hospitalisation, permanent disability or even death. If you do get the flu make sure you rest, drink plenty of fluids and eat healthily. Taking over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to reduce any fever or discomfort, can also help.