Doctors urge public to take action to stop the spread of flu

Dr Thomas Pulimood, a consultant in respiratory medicine at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, is an advocate of the flu vaccination.
Dr Thomas Pulimood, a consultant in respiratory medicine at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, is an advocate of the flu vaccination.

The West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust has urged people to take action to protect themselves and others from the flu this winter.

Doctors from the trust have expressed concern that people are not taking the appropriate precautions to prevent the virus spreading, such as washing hands frequently and thoroughly and getting the flu vaccine.

Dr Thomas Pulimood, consultant in respiratory medicine, said: “People often underestimate the power of the flu virus which can cause severe illness, even death, among at-risk groups, including older people, pregnant women, and adults and children with an underlying health condition.

“We have already seen patients come into hospital who are suffering with flu-like symptoms so the earlier you get your flu jab the better, especially if you fall within one of the at-risk groups.

“One droplet from someone sneezing could contain hundreds of viruses. The flu vaccine is the best protection we have against this unpredictable and infectious virus. It is one of the safest in the world and given to millions of people in UK each year.”

They are also urging the public and staff to wash their hands throughout the day for at least 20 seconds at a time, especially after going to the toilet, before and after preparing food and after having contact with animals.

Anne How, lead infection prevention nurse at the trust, said: “As well as getting the flu jab, washing your hands is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself and others from illnesses such as the cold and flu virus.

“People you come into contact with may be particularly vulnerable to germs without you even knowing it. It’s also especially important to make sure your hands are clean before and after visiting a patient in hospital or another healthcare setting, to limit the spread of infection by contact.”

This is part of the ‘Stay Well This Winter’ campaign - an initiative run by both NHS England and Public Health England.

Professor Paul Cosford, director of health protection and medical director at Public Health England, said: “For someone with a long-term health condition like asthma or COPD flu has the potential to turn very serious. Last winter, uptake increased amongst people in clinical risk groups and we want to continue this trend.

“We want as many eligible people as possible to get their jab, as it is the best way to protect everyone from flu and minimise the burden on the NHS during the season when it faces the most pressures.”

For more information or to arrange a vaccination, contact your GP surgery, or visit nhs.uk/staywell for more details on how to help you and your family to stay well this winter.