Lancashire and south Cumbria’s ’s medical director has urged people who are in at risk groups to get themselves vaccinated, as numbers of people experiencing flu symptoms in the local area continue to rise.
Dr Kieran Murphy, Medical Director for NHS England (Lancashire & South Cumbria) warned that people with long-term conditions such as asthma, heart-disease and diabetes are particularly at risk of serious illness as the flu virus continues to spread.
The latest figures published by Public Health England show that the number of people across Lancashire and south Cumbria going to see their GP with flu symptoms has doubled over the past two weeks, with the highest rates amongst people aged over 25.
Dr Murphy said: “For the majority of people flu is an unpleasant illness, but they should start to feel better within seven days. The problem for people with long-term conditions is, that they are more susceptible to complications if they catch the flu virus, because they have weakened immune systems. This means that a bout of flu could turn quickly in to a serious infection, such as bronchitis or pneumonia, which can cause longer-term damage to the lungs – and unfortunately some people end up in critical care in hospital.
“Unfortunately at the moment we’re seeing a rise in the number of people admitted to hospital as a result of catching the flu. It is encouraging that so many people have already been vaccinated and this will help to control the outbreak, however we know some people have still not had their flu vaccine.”
People in at-risk groups can have the vaccine free of charge, including those aged 65 years or over, pregnant women, and individuals with certain chronic conditions.