ELDERLY and vulnerable people in Eastbourne are being told not to risk catching winter flu by making sure they have their jab.
According to recently-released statistics, more people died from flu and pneumonia than breast cancer or prostate cancer in 2009 and last year’s seasonal outbreak resulted in more than 600 deaths across the UK.
And on top of that figure, health experts predict thousands of other people died with the bug as a contributory factor. For that reason, NHS Sussex is taking extra steps to encourage local people deemed at high risk to pre-empt any illness by having a vaccination sooner rather than later.
Because of Eastbourne’s higher than average numbers of elderly residents, there is more pressure on GPs and hospital staff to ensure as many as possible have the flu jab because the risks to those aged over 65 who suffer from the illness are far greater.
As well as pensioners, NHS Sussex is also warning pregnant women, carers and people with long-term medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease or multiple sclerosis should take up the offer of the free shot.
Dr Matt Jackson, local GP and vice chairman of the NHS Coastal Community Healthcare Consortium, said, “Even a mild flu season can contribute to more than 2,000 deaths each winter - the majority of which could be prevented if those people had been vaccinated.
“Flu is not the same as getting a cold and the effects of seasonal flu are often underestimated. Some people are more at risk from flu and need the vaccine because they are not able to fight off flu as easily as others. It can result in serious complications which require hospital treatment and can have devastating consequences.
“Thousands of people across Sussex are eligible for the free seasonal flu vaccine. The vaccine is available now across Sussex and is the best form of protection for you, your family and your friends. Please talk to your GP or local pharmacist to find out more.”