Lord Mayor of Manchester, Councillor Paul Murphy, OBE, had recently had his annual vaccination – and is now urging others to come forward too, especially if like him, they are in the priority ‘risk’ group, or if they are carers.
The priority groups include anyone aged 65 and over, pregnant women (at any stage of their pregnancy), and adults and children with long-term health conditions. All children aged from two up to school years 1 and 2 will be offered intra-nasal flu vaccination (a spray of vaccine in to the nose), either through their GP or in primary school.
Personal experience has prompted the Lord Mayor’s help to promote the value of the vaccination. When he was very young he had a serious case of suspected flu with complications – which doctors now think could have been the cause for damage to his heart.
Cllr Paul Murphy, said: “I found out recently that part of my heart muscle is slightly impaired from problems I had as a child. No-one can be absolutely certain but it is probably from the complications I developed from a virus, which medics think was flu. This was the first and last time I was ill as a youngster.
“I’m also a type 2 diabetic which is another reason for me to have the annual flu jab.”
The Lord Mayor has been using his term in office to help promote awareness of health and wellbeing issues, adding: “I’m particularly keen to encourage people like me, who perhaps haven’t been in the habit of seeing their GP, because prevention is far better than having to deal with an illness.
“And, as I was a carer for my wife while she was ill, it was even more important that I kept preventable illness at bay.”
Flu symptoms can start suddenly and include fever, chills, headaches, aching muscles as well as a cough or sore throat. Some people are more likely to develop potentially serious complications, such as pneumonia.
The viruses that cause flu change each year, which is why people need a yearly vaccination that matches the latest strain of the virus.
David Regan, Manchester City Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “A bad case of flu can be extremely serious, especially for older people or anyone who is at risk because of a long-term health problem.
“It is vital that everyone eligible comes forward as soon as possible to receive a quick and simple vaccination that could prevent them suffering a serious health problem this winter.”
Dr Bill Tamkin, chair of South Manchester Clinical Commissioning Group,
said: “A bad bout of flu is very different from having a heavy cold. It can make some people seriously ill – but this can be prevented with a quick and painless jab. It’s especially important for carers to come forward too, especially if they are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person who may be at risk if their carer falls ill. ”
The flu vaccine is available free on the NHS for:
- Anyone over the age of 65;
- Pregnant women
- Children and adults with an underlying health condition (particularly long-term heart or respiratory disease)
- Children aged from aged two up to children in school years 1 and 2, who will be given a nasal spray of the vaccine.
If you care for someone who is elderly or disabled, speak to your GP or pharmacist about having a flu jab along with the person you care for.