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It’s not too late to protect yourself from flu says health experts

PHE North West has urged those most at risk of flu to get their free vaccination after evidence suggests that 'flu activity is increasing in the area.

Dr Rosemary McCann, Deputy Director for Health Protection, PHE North West said: "Surveillance has shown that the number of people catching flu in the North West and elsewhere in the country is starting to increase.

"Our concern is that key groups such as pregnant women, young children, those aged over 65 and people with long term health conditions, who are at much greater risk of becoming seriously unwell if they catch flu, may not have had their free flu vaccine yet.

"The vaccine really is the best protection against flu and I would urge all those in these "at risk groups" who have not had the jab to get it as soon as possible."

Virus surveillance shows the strain A(H1N1)pdm09 is now the main seasonal flu virus and those viruses characterised so far this season are well-matched to the vaccine strain.

Previous flu seasons dominated by A(H1N1)pdm09 suggest this strain particularly affects children, pregnant women, and adults with long term conditions like chronic heart disease, liver disease, neurological disease and respiratory disease in particular.

The quick and simple 'flu jab' is the best protection from the virus and will help to reduce the risk of serious illness, hospitalisation and even death amongst those most at risk. It is free because people in at risk groups need it.

Maintaining good cough and hand hygiene, such as covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough and sneeze, disposing of the tissue as soon as possible and cleaning your hands as soon you can are important actions that can help prevent the spread of germs and reduce the risk of transmission.

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Public Health England's mission is to protect and improve the nation's health and to address inequalities through working with national and local government, the NHS, industry and the voluntary and community sector. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health. www.gov.uk/phe

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Public Health England Press Office - North West Tel: 0344 225 0562 - option 5 (includes out of hours)