|Topics of the Week: We’d like to tell you about a dangerous respiratory virus that circulates the UK. No, not COVID-19, this week we’re talking about the flu.|
Flu (Influenza) is a virus that is passed from person to person via droplets in the air. It causes a respiratory illness with fever, joint aches and cold-like symptoms. It affects the elderly and vulnerable most and is prominent in winter months.
This all sounds very similar to COVID-19. It is! – with a few key differences in symptoms that you can read more about here.
The good news is that the NHS runs a vaccination programme for the flu, targeting the most vulnerable members of society. This year the campaign is bigger and more important than ever, so we can prevent the concurrent spread of Flu and COVID-19. This will not only save lives but also protect the NHS and frontline workers. It is vital that people get vaccinated!What are vaccinations? Vaccinations make the body immune to a disease, without having to catch the disease itself. The more people in a population who are vaccinated, the more effective they are at stopping a disease from spreading. Vaccinations in the UK have eradicated deadly diseases such as Smallpox and Polio. They are safe and effective, preventing up to 3 million deaths worldwide every year.
Who can have a flu vaccination?More people than usual are eligible to get free flu vaccination this year. At the moment this includes anyone who: Is aged 65 or over; has certain underlying health conditions; is pregnant; lives in a long-stay residential home; receives a carers allowance or is the main carer for a vulnerable person; lives with someone who was on the shielded patient list; is a frontline health or social care workers; is a child aged 2-3 or at school in reception to year 7
Later in the year there is a plan to extend the vaccine to all 50-64 year olds. This will start once the more vulnerable people on the list have had access to the vaccination.
How to get a flu vaccination
You can have a free NHS flu vaccination at:
Your GP Surgery – many have designated appointments or clinics so ask!
Local pharmacies – offering the service
Midwifery services – if you are pregnant
Your employer – if you are a frontline health or social care worker
A few flu mythbusters
Concerns and false information about vaccinations are everywhere. Remember that vaccinations are rigorously tested before they are allowed to be used. They are one of the safest and most effective health interventions.
FACT: The flu vaccination doesn’t give you flu
FACT: If you had the flu vaccination last year it doesn’t mean you are protected this year – you should have it annually if you are eligible
FACT: The flu vaccination doesn’t protect you from COVID-19. It protects you from the flu, which could help reduce the severity of COVID-19 on individuals and society
FACT: The flu vaccination only gives you protection from the flu. It doesn’t take any genetic information or mark you in any way
FACT: If you have an egg allergy you can ask for a different flu vaccine
The same measures we use to stop prevent the spread of COVID-19 can reduce the spread of flu too. So always remember:
Wash your hands, Cover your face, Create a 2 metre spaceUpdates and Guidelines The Prime Minister has announced that the whole of England is due to be entering into a national lockdown this Thursday 5 November. This means that everyone should stay at home wherever possible.
Reasons to leave home include:
To go to childcare, school or college
To attend work if your workplace is open and you cannot work from home
To exercise outdoors, with your household/bubble or, when you are alone, with one person from outside your household
To attend a medical appointment or receive emergency medical care
Shopping for basic necessities
To visit other members of your support bubble or to provide care to vulnerable people
To volunteer, where the facilities remain open
These rules are still under consideration and may change. Read the detailed list of changes. All of these rules supersede the Tier system we have recently been using.
Cases of COVID-19 are rising and the new lockdown is designed to slow this down so we can protect individuals and the NHS from the devastating effects of this virus.
We are aware that the prospect of a second lockdown may be disappointing and challenging to people in the Lewisham community.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is usually produced by sunshine exposure to skin. It helps maintain the body’s calcium and phosphate levels which keep teeth, bones and muscles healthy. It is unclear whether or not Vitamin D has a link with COVID-19 and trials into this are ongoing. Regardless of this the NHS recommends that everyone takes 10 micrograms (400 IU) of Vitamin D every day from October to March. This can be bought at a pharmacy. For people who are really not keen or not able to take tablets Vitamin D can also be found in foods such as: oily fish, red meat, liver, egg yolks and some fortified breakfast cereals. Lewisham does have a free Vitamin D Scheme for pregnant people and children under the age of four. Details can be found here.
Visiting vulnerable people: The new guidelines advise that individuals can visit vulnerable people to provide care. The number of people visiting should be limited to those providing essential care.
Social Bubbles: Social bubbles are allowed to continue as they have been. If someone wants to change social bubble they can do this but it must be a fixed change. If there is a concern regarding care for someone in a bubble this can still be provided as explained above.
Shielding: Although official shielding advice has not come back into force, those who are clinically extremely vulnerable and were previously asked to shield are asked to take extra care around the precautions and stay at home where possible. Regions may reintroduce shielding as cases rise, but those this is relevant to will be informed individually.
Test turnaround times: Testing is readily available. Book online or by calling 119. Results come back in 1-5 days, although this is usually within 3 days.
Who should isolate and when: A quick reminder – If you have symptoms: isolate until test result; then reassessIf you have a positive test result: isolate for 10 days from start of symptoms or test result providing the person is no longer unwell with a raised temperature If someone in your household has symptoms or a positive test result: isolate 14 days from start of household member’s symptoms or test result If you have been asked to isolate by NHS Test and Trace: isolate for as long as advised
Your inputThank you to everyone who attended the webinar last week. It was lovely to meet you and thank you for your questions and suggestions.
Please continue to send your community related COVID-19 questions and stories to email@example.comNext Webinar:Our next webinar will be on Thursday 12th November 2020 at 6pm (45 minutes). You can access the meeting via the following link: https://zoom.us/j/93649424146?pwd=R2dsdVEvNlFMQ09YS3hHTlhhMG5sUT09Meeting ID: 936 4942 4146Passcode: 0wh6fuThis link will be the same for all webinars. We will be discussing: Flu vaccinations and Mental Health with COVID-19 restrictions.We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you at the Webinar. In the meantime please remember to complete our short survey.Best Wishes, The Lewisham COVID-19 Community Champion Team