Young At-Risk People Urged To Get Flu Jab

More than two million at-risk young people are failing to get their flu jab, the UK's Chief Medical Officer has warned.

In 2006, around 58% of at-risk under-65s, such as those with asthma and diabetes, failed to get a flu jab, leaving over two million vulnerable to the side effects of the virus, which can lead to bronchitis, pneumonia, hospitalisation or even death.

People over 65 or those with a serious heart or respiratory condition; kidney or liver disease; diabetes; lowered immunity due to disease or treatment; multiple sclerosis; conditions of the nervous system or have suffered a stroke.

A new campaign is being launched by the Department of Health on Monday, which marks the start of the flu season and encourages those in 'at risk' groups or over 65 years of age to get the jab.

Campaigns in Northern Ireland and Scotland are due to be launched next week.

Flu contributes to over 25,000 excess winter deaths every year and thousands of people are hospitalised due to serious complications.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Liam Donaldson said: "It is a common misperception that it's only older people who suffer the most when they get flu. Many children and adults under the age of 65 are putting themselves at just as much risk to the effect of the virus.

"People and children at risk from the effects of flu need to get a flu jab every year. It only takes a minute to get the flu jab, but this will protect you, your child or grandchild for 12 months. This is why you should contact your GP and make an appointment to get a free annual flu jab. The flu jab can literally save lives."

Erica Evans, Care Development Manager at Asthma UK, said: "Younger people with asthma may be putting themselves at risk by missing out on the flu jab, which has been widely used for many years and is safe and effective. Colds and flue trigger the symptoms of 90% of the millions of people with asthma in the UK and while it is almost impossible to avoid catching the common cold, having a jab can help to prevent the flu virus taking hold. We would recommend that anyone with asthma discusses the possibility of having a flu jab with their GP this autumn, before the virus begins to circulate."

Cathy Moulton, care advisor at Diabetes UK, said: "Having flu can really upset diabetes control and cause blood glucose levels to fluctuate. This can leave people with diabetes open to many health problems including complications of flu such as pneumonia and bronchitis. As they are a high risk group when it comes to getting flu, it is very important that people with diabetes are vaccinated this winter."


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