Every winter flu viruses circulate in the community. This year, there are a number of viruses circulating including swine flu (or H1N1). For the vast majority of people flu remains a mild illness that can be treated at home. People with underlying health conditions remain at a much higher risk of flu complications and therefore should get vaccinated. This year’s seasonal flu vaccine is readily available to people in the at-risk groups from your GP and includes protection against swine flu.
The spread of infection from flu can be prevented by regular hand washing with soap and water when possible and anti-bacterial hand hygiene gel/wipes when not. You can also help prevent the spread of infection by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
Anyone with flu symptoms should stay at home and rest, ease symptoms with over-the-counter remedies and drink plenty of fluids. If symptoms worsen you should contact you GP, ideally by telephone to avoid spreading infection. Your GP will advise you on further treatment.
Who should get the Flu vaccine?
The following people are considered in the ‘at risk’ group and should get the vaccine as soon as possible from their GP if they have not already done so:
Children and adults who have any of the following medical conditions or roles:
- Chronic chest condition such as asthma
- Chronic heart condition
- Chronic liver disease
- Chronic Kidney disease
- Lowered immunity due to disease or treatment such as steroids or cancer therapy
- A chronic neurological condition such as stroke, multiple sclerosis or a condition that affects your nervous system such as cerebral palsy
- Pregnant women
- Anyone living in a residential or nursing home
- Anyone who is the main carer for an elderly or disabled person
- Frontline health and social care employees
For more information and advice on the flu, go to the following websites;
- The Public Health Agency: www.publichealth.hscni.net
- Flu aware NI: www.fluawareni.info
- NI Direct: www.nidirect.gov.uk/flu