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Get set for the flu season; HEALTH Important flu services your pharmacy provides Importa.

IF you're aged 65 or over, having a free NHS flu jab every year is vital for protecting yourself from the risk of serious illness.

Yet last year, more than a quarter of people eligible for a free NHS flu vaccination failed to get themselves vaccinated. Flu is not simply a bad cold. It can make some existing conditions worse and can lead to other conditions such as bronchitis and pneumonia.

Last winter, 1,187 patients in England were admitted to critical care in hospital suffering from influenza - of which 100 tragically died. This year, in a bid to boost take-up of the jab, you can get it in pharmacies across England and Wales, including over 1,900 Boots pharmacies- many of which are open seven days a week.

Boots pharmacist Tom Kallis said this scheme offered a "convenient alternative" to flu jab clinics offered by GPs.

He said: "Some people aren't able to attend clinic times laid on by their GP surgeries, which they also may need to book well in advance.

"Pharmacies have a unique advantage in being widely accessible across the country, situated at the heart of most high streets and community centres, making access to vaccinations a lot easier.

"Some pharmacies are open for extended hours, so can provide jabs at weekends and later on in the evenings, whenever is most convenient for people's busy schedules, subject to the pharmacist's availability."

Flu is also an extremely serious illness for pregnant women and patients with certain long-term conditions such as diabetes, asthma and heart problems. Everybody in these at-risk groups, as well as those living in long-stay care facilities, and people who receive a carer's allowance are eligible for a free NHS flu jab. And because it can take between 14 and 21 days for the vaccine to become effective, it is important to get it done as early as possible.

If you are over 18 and are eligible, you don't need a referral from your GP to have a free flu jab at a Boots pharmacy.

Following a quick consultation in the private consultation room, and the completion of a questionnaire, the pharmacist will find out if the jab is suitable for you, which will then be administered.

Specially trained Boots pharmacists have been providing private flu jabs for a number of years, and they are fully trained to provide this NHS service.

And while you're getting your jab done at Boots, why not speak to your pharmacist to get some advice on which vitamins and supplements can help you stay healthy?

If you are not eligible for the free prov feee the free NHS flu jab, Boots can provide the jab for a small fee of PS12.99, subject to eligibility, pharmacist and stock availability.

For people living with long term conditions, and those who have recently been prescribed certain new medication, pharmacists can also help them get the most out of their medicines. With the free NHS New Medicines Service, pharmacists counsel patients on how to use their medicines correctly and address any questions or concerns.

Boots also offer a free annual NHS Medicines Use Review for customers taking multiple medicines, so pharmacists can check they are still using their medicines in the right way.

Mr Kallis said: "Pharmacists are experts in medicines and can play a crucial role in supporting patients with their medicines."

When you should get the jab

For people with certain health problems, catching flu is much more than just an inconvenience. If you have any of these conditions, a flu jab is an important winter preparation.

Chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma and bronchitis.WHY? A flu infection can trigger asthma attacks and worsen symptoms, although not all asthma sufferers are eligible.

Diabetes. WHY? Flu can really upset diabetes control. It can lead to higher blood sugar levels and increase the risk of life-threatening complications faced by people with diabetes.

Chronic heart disease.WHY? There is evidence that heart attacks happen more often after having an acute inflammatory illness such as flu.

Chronic kidney disease and liver disease, as well as chronic neurological conditions. WHY? Flu could lead to more serious illnesses.

A weakened immune system can mean that your body becomes too weak to flight off the flu.

COLD AND FLU MYTH BUSTERS

Flu can be treated with antibiotics. FALSE! Antibiotics only work against infections caused by bacteria. Flu is caused by a virus.

Eating chicken soup will cure a cold. FALSE! But it can help to ease a sore throat.

Once you've had the flu jab you're protected for life.

FALSE! You need a vaccination each year to protect against prevalent strains that year.

WHY PREGNANT WOMEN GET A FLU JAB

FALLING ill with flu while pregnant carries risks to your baby. However, just 44 per cent of pregnant women had a free NHS flu jab last year.

1Contracting 1Cdcou me be wWv flu during pregnancy could cause complications, meaning your baby could be born prematurely or with a low birth weight. Women can get vaccinated at any stage of pregnancy.

2 One of the most common complications of flu is bronchitis, a chest infection that can become serious and develop into pneumonia.

3 There is also good evidence that pregnant women have a higher chance of developing complications if they get flu, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy.

4 Finally, pregnant women who have had the flu jab will pass on some protection to their babies for the first few months of their lives.

boots.com/flujab To book a flu jab visit

CAPTION(S):

FLU VACCINATION one of the many services available at Boots' pharmacies

CHICKEN SOUP It's not magic
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 29, 2015
Words:946
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