Prevention is better than cure, says DR MATT PICCAVER, especially when it comes to flu
Dr Matt on the perils of flu and what to do about it
“I’ve suggested we find other bunting for different times of the year. Think Cath Kidston, but with more prostates”
’TIS the season to be snotty. Or it will be very soon. The cycle of life in a GP surgery turns to the mass call for people to get their flu jab; you may already have noticed posters, bunting, and leaflets in your local surgery.
My reception counter is currently decked with lengths of bright yellow bunting, advertising flu jabs, like a clinical Christmas decoration. I’ve suggested we find other bunting for different times of the year. Think Cath Kidston, but with more prostates. It didn’t go down well.
The flu vaccination is an important part of our arsenal to keep people well during winter months. Every day is like a winter’s day in the NHS at the moment, as any of you who have been to hospital or your local clinic will know. It is busy with an ever-increasing tide of people needing our help. Prevention is better than cure and in the case of flu, there isn’t really much of a cure anyway. There are a few antivirals that some people might get offered, but by and large they aren’t up to much, which leaves us pretty much with prevention.
How do we prevent ourselves from getting flu? Don’t go near anyone else would be a start, albeit one that isn’t particularly practical. I try, but somehow people keep finding me. And they’re all ill. Must be something to do with the sign on the outside of the building.
Good hand hygiene can help prevent the spread of coughs and colds, with flu being a major cause of them.
The flu jab is another way to prevent yourself from getting flu and this year will be offered to people over the age of 65, children between the ages of two and eight, younger children in at the at-risk groups, pregnant women, people living in residential/nursing homes, carers (this is a very broad group of people) and, new for this year, the morbidly obese (which is anyone having a body mass index of over 40).
At-risk groups include those with long-term respiratory conditions, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, long-term heart conditions, chronic kidney and liver disease, long-term neurological problems (such as MS, or Parkinson’s Disease), those with a weakened immune system due to certain diseases or medications and people without a spleen. You’d probably know if you didn’t have a spleen.
This doesn’t really leave out much of the UK population really.
Many surgeries have mass flu clinics, and our surgery is no exception. Two weekends in October and we manage to vaccinate several thousand people. Keep an eye out in your area for the dates of your local flu clinics.