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Harlow carers urged to stay well this winter

Politics / Sat 24th Oct 2015 at 01:58pm

AS the days get colder and the clocks go back Essex County Council is getting behind the launch of a new nationwide campaign urging residents to Stay Well This Winter.

As winter approaches and coughs, colds and flu start to circulate in the community, it’s important to keep ourselves healthy and well. This is particularly important for those caring for the elderly, ill or disabled.

Essex County Council’s Public Health Team is encouraging the 180,000 carers in Essex to check with their GP to see if they’re eligible for a free flu jab to reduce the risk to their own health and the person they care for.

Every winter, the vast majority of unpaid carers miss out on a free flu jab, despite the fact that they are entitled to request one. If you receive a carer’s allowance, or you’re the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill, speak to your GP or pharmacist about having a free flu jab along with the person you care for.

Flu is a common infectious viral illness spread by coughs and sneezes. It can be very unpleasant. It’s not the same as the common cold and is caused by a different group of viruses. The symptoms tend to start more suddenly, be more severe and last longer.

Cllr Anne Brown, Cabinet Member for Communities and Healthy Living, said: “We are concerned for our unpaid carers across Essex this winter. If a carer is struck down by flu, not only are they unwell themselves, but they could also pass on the virus to those they care for. Also, a carer may become too ill continue in their caring role. If no-one else can step in to look after the person they care for, they could be at risk.

“Outbreaks of flu often occur where people are in close contact with each other. Because flu is so contagious, staff, patients and residents are all at risk of infection. So, if you’re a front-line health or social care worker, your employer will arrange for you to have a free flu jab. It is vital that you have this every year as the vaccine protects against different strains of flu which evolve every year.

Cllr Brown added: “The flu vaccination is still the best protection against an unpredictable virus which can cause severe illness and deaths amongst vulnerable groups, including older people and those with a health condition, even one that is well managed.”

So, help protect yourself and others by speaking to your GP or local pharmacist now – it’s free because you need it. Those employed in healthcare should speak to their employer.

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