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Health column: Dr Jonty Heaversedge

As winter approaches, it’s time for those at greatest risk from flu to protect themselves and their families with a free flu jab or nasal spray.

Flu is a highly contagious infection that anyone can catch, and it can be a really serious illness for some. Those at greater risk from flu include people aged 65 or over, pregnant women, and those with health conditions such as asthma, chest or heart complaints, and diabetes.

Flu can also be a very serious and unpleasant illness in children as they suffer the same symptoms as adults including fever, chills and aching muscles. Parents of children aged two, three and four can help protect their little ones from flu with one simple, free nasal spray. It’s a quick, painless and effective way for children to be protected without the need for injections.

Flu can increase the risk of developing more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and can make existing conditions much worse. It can really knock you off your feet and make it hard to look after the kids or go to work. In the most serious cases, seasonal flu might land you in hospital. There was also a spike in the death rate recorded for in England and Wales in February this year. It was one-third higher than the previous year and many experts believe major contributing factors were flu and the cold weather.

The flu vaccine changes every year to fight the latest strains of flu, so even if you had a jab last winter you need another one this year to stay flu safe.

If you’re in any of the ’at risk’ groups, the flu jab is completely free and is a safe way of protecting you and your family in a matter of minutes.

The best time to be vaccinated is at the start of the flu season in October to early November, so it’s good to get in early and get flu safe in time for the winter.

Simply contact your GP to arrange a convenient appointment or ask in your local pharmacy. For more information visit


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