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Flu cases lead to hospital admissions

The flu virus is already circulating and has led to people being hospitalised.

Swansea Bay University Health Board’s Director of Public Health, Dr Keith Reid, said the cases, although small in number, should be a timely reminder that everyone eligible for a free flu vaccination should take up the offer.

“Flu was non-existent in autumn and winter 2020 as lockdowns, mask wearing and increased hand hygiene stopped it and other winter bugs from spreading from person to person,” he said.

“But we have been expecting to see flu come back this year and potentially at levels up to twice as high as a normal flu season.

“People were simply not exposed to flu and other seasonal viruses last year, so the level of immunity in the community is likely to have dropped and people will be susceptible.

“Plus we are all mixing far more now and, with the bad weather coming, we are all going to be heading indoors which will give flu and other bugs the ideal opportunity to spread.”

Flu can be fatal and research has shown that those infected with both flu and Covid are more than twice as likely to die as someone with Covid alone.

A picture of Keith Reid

Dr Reid, pictured left, said: “This will be the first winter when we will have significant levels of flu and Covid circulating at the same time, so I must urge everyone, if they are eligible for a free flu vaccination, to take up the offer as soon as possible.

“While no vaccine can offer 100% protection, the flu vaccine remains our best defence against this nasty virus.

“And remember, if you haven’t yet had your first Covid vaccination you can still do so.”

 

 

How do I get the flu and Covid vaccines?

GPs, community pharmacies and the school nursing service are offering the flu vaccination.

If you live in Swansea or Neath Port Talbot and still haven’t had your first Covid vaccination, contact the health board’s booking team on 01792 200492 or 01639 862323 or email: sbu.covidbookingteam@wales.nhs.uk to make an appointment.

 

Cases and symptoms

The small number of flu cases reported in Swansea Bay hospitals in just over a month have been of both the A and B strains.

The flu vaccines now available in the UK offer protection against two A and two B strains of flu, best matched to the strains experts at the World Health Organization predicted would be in circulation.

The flu vaccines cannot give you the flu.

Common flu symptoms include:

  • a high temperature of 38C or above
  • tiredness and weakness
  • headache
  • general aches and pains
  • dry cough
  • sore throat
  • stuffy nose.

Children may also get diarrhoea and vomiting.

While some people will only experience mild flu symptoms, it can cause serious complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia, which may lead to hospital admission.

Very young children and older adults, people with serious underlying health conditions and pregnant women are at greater risk of suffering from complications if they catch flu.

This year in the UK all children aged two or three as of August 31st, 2021, up to those in year 11, children and adults with long-term health conditions, pregnant women, carers, care home residents and health and social care staff are eligible for a free flu vaccination.

Go to this page on the Public Health Wales website to find out more about the flu and the flu vaccine.

 

 

Other winter illnesses are on the rise

Swansea Bay UHB has also seen cases of other winter illnesses such as norovirus, which is also known as the winter vomiting bug, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in our hospitals.

RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild cold-like symptoms. But it can be serious, especially for very young children and older adults.

 

Advice for keeping yourself, your family and our communities safe

In addition to vaccination, the health board is advising people to take the following simple hygiene precautions to help reduce the spread of winter viruses:

  • Always sneeze or cough into a tissue, bin it and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, particularly after blowing your nose and before eating. Remember: alcohol gel/hand sanitiser is not effective against norovirus, but will kill flu and Covid.
  • Take hand sanitiser with you when you go out and take advantage of the hand and trolley sanitising stations set up in shops.
  • Remember it is still the law in Wales that everyone aged 11 and over must wear a face covering in all indoor public places and on public transport. This includes hospitals.
  • Stay home if you have symptoms consistent with Covid and arrange a test.
  • If you have diarrhoea and/or vomiting, stay home until at least 48 hours after your last symptoms.
  • Please don’t visit anyone in hospital if you or a person you are caring for has diarrhoea and vomiting.
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