As winter approaches we are encouraging all eligible islanders to get their flu jab.
Last year the vaccination programme was improved with the extension of the nasal spray vaccine to all primary school children in Guernsey and Alderney. This meant that the vaccine was offered to all 2 and 3 year olds, as well as children in year's reception, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.
Joana Rocha, Health Protection Nurse said "We were very encouraged as we exceeded the England target of a 65% uptake, but want to still strive to immunise more children".
The more effective flu vaccine used last year for those aged 65 and over in Guernsey and Alderney will be used again this year. In line with Public Health England recommendations this vaccine will be offered to over 65s in Guernsey and Alderney. This 'adjuvanted' vaccine significantly boosts effectiveness by improving the body's immune response to the vaccine. This is important because typically, older adults do not respond as well to the flu vaccine due to their naturally weaker immune systems. Older adults are also more likely to suffer complications from flu.
The broader flu vaccination programme will again offer all eligible adults under 65, including pregnant women and those with long-term health conditions, the 'quadrivalent' vaccine in injected form. This quadrivalent vaccine protects against a total of four strains of flu; two strains of flu A and two strains of flu B. The majority of our deliveries of flu vaccines for this year have already arrived and we are due to receive the remainder before the end of this month.
As well as getting the vaccine, practising good hand hygiene by catching coughs and sneezes in a tissue, throwing it away and washing your hands after can help limit the spread of the flu virus - catch it, bin it, kill it.
Dr Nicola Brink, Director of Public Health explained "We know that flu is potentially a very serious illness. We also know that adults over 65 years of age are more likely to catch and have complications from flu. By using this enhanced flu vaccine for this age group we will ensure that Islanders are better protected. This will also help reduce the spread of the flu virus. We strongly support the concept of the 'Help Us Help You' brand. This is based on the concept of reciprocity, encouraging people to take appropriate actions (be that getting the flu vaccination or accessing the appropriate service) to better enable health and care providers in Guernsey and Alderney to help them. "
Deputy Heidi Soulsby, President of the Committee for Health & Social Care added "Our health and care staff across Guernsey and Alderney do an excellent job caring for Islanders when they become unwell. However, as important, and very much in line with the ethos of the Partnership of Purpose is a focus on prevention and keeping people healthy."