Jenny Harries says UK should be 'sensibly worried' about flu
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Now that indoor mixing is resembling that of pre-pandemic levels, “we’re not quite clear what will happen”, said Dr Jenny Harries. However, in preparation, we have a few “tools” to help. “The important thing is we have some tools,” Dr Harries told ITV’s Lorraine on Monday, October 11. “For most people, you can get a flu jab and you can have a Covid booster.”
Dr Harries emphasised that it is “really important that people do that”.
The flu circulation was low last year, as people were “taking great care last year” not to mingle with one another.
“As we all head inside, the weather gets colder, [and] we’re all closed in, we need to remember to do all the things we normally do,” added Dr Harries.
This involves ventilating rooms and wearing face coverings when you’re inside with people you don’t usually mix with.
“Make sure you go and get your jab,” Dr Harries urged, speaking in particular about the flu vaccine.
Over the past five years, on average, 11,000 people die each year from catching the flu virus.
During that five-year period, the number of people dying from flu each year varied from 4,000 to 22,000 people.
Worryingly, research shows that 25 percent of the public did not know you can die from flu.
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Dr Harries stated “we’ve got a tool here” – a “safe vaccine” – that she recommends people to “go and have it”.
The doctor is particularly keen for young people with underlying health conditions to “please get the flu vaccine this year”.
Each year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and scientists in the UK look at the winter period in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Southern Hemisphere contains “most of South America, one-third of Africa, Australia, Antarctica, and some Asian islands”, said the National Geographic Society.
Looking at the flu strains circulating in the Southern Hemisphere, scientists can then combine four different flu strains into one jab.
While this method does not guarantee which flu strains will be circulating in England, it can be a good indication, thereby enhancing vaccine efficacy.
Although the flu jab can not completely rule out the chance of an infection, it is very good at preventing severe disease.
In regards to Covid, the delta variant – the most prominent strain in the last surge of infections – is “very susceptible” to the coronavirus vaccines.
There is “no variants coming in at the moment that are going to escape the vaccine”, assured Dr Harries.
This “good news” is demonstrated in the number of rising infections not being translated into the number of patients dying from Covid.
While there are “still high levels” of Covid infection going around, the Government data shows that the number of deaths in the past week has stabilised.
When people are invited for their Covid booster jab, Dr Harries says doing so will “boost immunity” so that you are “safe for longer”.
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