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Flu vaccination programme starts this week

St Mary's Health Centre's 'flu vaccination programme will be offered across the islands over the next two weeks.

The Medical Team at St Mary’s Health Centre begin their 2018/2019 ‘flu campaign this week, starting with St Agnes and Tresco on Tuesday October 2nd followed by St Martins on Wednesday October 3rd and Bryher on Thursday October 4th. The St Mary’s drop in clinic is planned for Saturday October 6th between 10am and 12 noon.

Lead practice nurse Fran Clark said: "It's all systems go this week as we hope to vaccinate as many of our eligible patients before the half term holiday get- away begins. We saw some flu last year on the islands and with the current programme running a week later than usual, we have a busy time ahead of us getting as may people as possible protected."

Dr Chris Picken, the islands' Lead GP, said: "There’s been quite a bit of press coverage regarding a shortage of vaccines this year but we’re pleased to say we have our quota and will have sufficient supply to vaccinate all NHS eligible patients so please come up as soon as you can to get yours."

Fran and Practice Paramedic Wayne Davey will lead the programme’s delivery over the next week, heading to the off-islands before attending Five Islands School to vaccinate Reception to Year 5 with the Nasal ‘Flu spray. At- risk children and those aged 2-3 years will be invited to the Health Centre in due course.

Saturday’s clinic will include a cake sale for the League of Friends so any donation will be gratefully received.

Flu is a common infectious viral illness spread by coughs and sneezes. It can be very unpleasant, but you'll usually begin to feel better within about a week or two.

You can catch flu – short for influenza – all year round, but it is especially common in winter, which is why it's also known as "seasonal flu". It is not the same as the common cold, which some people may get four or five times a year. Flu is caused by a different group of viruses and the symptoms tend to start more suddenly, be more severe and last longer. The flu fatality rates are much higher for the very young, the elderly and people with long-term illness so it is particularly important to protect as many of these groups as possible.

You should have the flu vaccination every year so you stay protected. The viruses that cause flu change every year, so this winter's flu vaccine may be different from last year's.

The eligibility criteria for the vaccine includes but is not limited to:

- Everyone over 65 years of age including those turning 65 before the end of March 2019

- Pregnant ladies at any point of their pregnancy

- Patients with long term health conditions such as Diabetes, Asthma (and prescribed steroid inhalers), COPD, Heart, Liver or Kidney Disease

- Health care professionals

- Registered carers

- Patients (and household members) with immune system problems or undergoing treatment such as chemotherapy

- Anyone who is very overweight (with a body mass index over 40)

- Children aged between 2 years old (on the 1st September 2018) to school year 5

Fran asked patients to “please contact the Health Centre if you are not sure of your eligibility, or you're not eligible but you think you should be".

Alternatively St Mary’s Pharmacy can supply a private, reasonably priced vaccine to non eligible NHS patients. Please contact them directly for details.

If you have queries or are not available on these dates please call the Health Centre on 01720 422628.

Fran said: "We have one the highest rates for 'flu vaccine uptake in the country, which means we are more able to protect vulnerable people in the community and stop the spread of the virus.

"Those who care for other people should also consider having the vaccine. The more people who have the vaccination the greater the community is protected, although we are only able to vaccinate those carers who are formally registered."

More information about the flu vaccine is available at the NHS website.


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