Flu deaths prompt jab alert

HEALTH bosses in Wigan are urging people to get the flu jab after a number of deaths in the region.

Ashton, Leigh and Wigan Primary Care Trust (PCT) has reported soaring numbers of people in the borough suffering flu-like symptoms.

The virus has been fatal in some cases across the North West already this winter and doctors are now stressing that immunisation can provide the most effective protection.

A PCT spokesman said: “We have reports that an increasing number of people in the Wigan borough are suffering flu-like symptoms.

“The vast majority of people will make a full recovery within a few days, though some people may feel under the weather for a few weeks after.

A small minority of people will develop complications, some of whom may require admission to hospital.”

People who are at additional risk of developing complications are those with chronic respiratory disease (including asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) chronic heart, kidney or liver disease, chronic neurological conditions (including cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis), diabetes mellitus, pregnant women, people whose immunity is low due to disease or treatment including cancer sufferers going through chemotherapy, and anyone aged 65 and above.

The PCT is offering the following advice to the public:

If you have been offered a flu jab by your doctor, but have yet to take it up, there is still an opportunity to do so. It will still afford protection. All people in the above risk groups are advised to have a flu jab.

If you develop flu-like symptoms (cough, fever, headache, general aches and pains), are healthy and not in a risk group then go home, stay at home, go to bed, take plenty of fluids, and take paracetamol as needed (do not exceed the dose on the pack).

The advice is the same for children and paracetamol containing products such as Calpol can be used in accordance with the instructions on the pack. Do not give children aspirin.

If after a few days symptoms have not subsided then contact your doctor.

If you develop flu-like symptoms and are in a risk group above then contact your doctor.

Health chiefs have urged people not go to A & E with flu symptoms except in the case of a medical emergency.

The Department of Health is also reminding people that the flu vaccine does not contain any live virus, so it cannot cause flu.

Those who got the jab last year will need to get a new jab this winter as the virus changes every year and the vaccine needs to match the latest version of the virus.

Practical tips to help avoid spreading germs to others and to help avoid infection yourself include always carrying tissues, covering your cough and sneeze with a tissue, disposing of the tissue after one use, and cleaning your hands as soon as you can.

Antiviral medication is only recommended for the treatment of flu in the at-risk groups listed.