By Jenny Hinchliffe – Head of Clinical Services for the South at Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust
With the dark nights drawing in and the colder weather upon us, it’s time for us all to start thinking about how we can ensure we keep well this winter.
In particular, this is the time to make your appointment to have your flu vaccination, especially if you are part of one of the most at-risk groups.
Flu is a highly contagious illness that spreads rapidly through the coughs and sneezes of people who are carrying the virus.
It can cause serious complications for at risk groups, such as the elderly, expectant mothers and people with long-term conditions such as asthma, diabetes and chronic heart disease.
Children aged two, three and four are also at risk and you may be entitled to a free vaccination if you are a carer.
The symptoms of flu can be very unpleasant and last for several days. It can lead to more serious complications like middle ear infections in children, pneumonia and bronchitis for some people which will mean a hospital stay.
At Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust (LCHS), we’re asking our staff to play their part in protecting the vulnerable against flu by also having their own vaccination.
This includes those you might meet in the departments or wards at the Johnson Community Hospital and community teams and specialist nurses and therapists who either see you in a clinic or visit you at home.
Every day, they come into contact with patients for whom flu could directly or indirectly result in a devastating illness or fatality.
By having the flu vaccination, we know that we can not only ensure we are all well enough to continue to deliver care in your community but also help to prevent spreading the virus.
Our community nursing teams will also be playing a vital role in supporting the campaign by delivering vaccinations to some of our more vulnerable patients who are unable to visit their GP.
This year is also an important year for our school nursing teams across the county. Lincolnshire has been chosen as one of 12 pilot areas to offer a nasal spray vaccine to pupils in years 7 and 8 at secondary schools.
If you are a parent of a child in these year groups you may have already received a letter explaining about the pilot programme and to ask for your consent.
If you would like to have your flu vaccine, they will be available between October 2014 and March 2015 from your local GP or a pharmacy near you.
For more information, you can also visit www.nhs.uk/flu