Leading health figures from Sefton Council, NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Southport and Formby CCG have joined together to offer expert advice to residents on how they can best avoid catching the flu this winter.

Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing said: “Flu can have really serious effects for many vulnerable people including the elderly, young children, pregnant women and those living with long term health conditions.

“For this reason the following advice also includes tips that will help residents to limit the spread of flu within their community and I strongly urge everybody to take the advice on board.”

Dr Rob Caudwell, chair of NHS Southport and Formby CCG, said: “People with chronic long term health conditions or reduced immunity should get vaccinated even if they have no symptoms. A bout of flu can greatly worsen any existing condition and increases the risk of complications like pneumonia.”

Dr Andy Mimnagh, chair of NHS South Sefton CCG added: “A flu vaccination is an important part of staying well over winter. If you have any questions about getting vaccinated, simply contact your GP practice and ask for advice, we’ll be happy to help.”

Get the flu jab
The best way to protect yourself and others from flu is by getting the flu vaccination. The vaccination is free for those aged over 65, pregnant women, people living with long term health conditions, young children aged 2 and 3 and to registered carers.If you’re not eligible for a free vaccination you can purchase it for as little as £10. Speak to your local pharmacist for find out more about this service.
Know the symptoms
It’s important to be aware of the symptoms of flu in order to help you to best treat its effects and avoid passing the illness on to others.Symptoms include a sudden fever, aching body, feeling tired or exhausted, chesty cough, sore throat, headache, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, diarrhoea or tummy pain, nausea and being sick.
Get the right advice
If you think you may have the flu try to avoid visiting your GP or pharmacist to reduce the risk of spreading the illness. Instead call the free NHS helpline service 111 or visit the NHS Choices website.Be sure stock up on flu and cold remedies in advance so that if you become ill you have everything you need at home. Remember that antibiotics should not be used to treat flu and should only be used upon the advice of your GP.
Wash your hands
Washing your hands regularly using soap and warm water will help you to prevent the spread of germs that can cause flu. By washing your hands you will destroy bugs that you may have picked up from touching surfaces used by other people, such as light switches and door handles.
Not only will this reduce the chances of you catching the flu yourself, but it will also help to limit the spread of flu across Sefton.

Be mindful of others
Try to avoid having unnecessary contact with other people if you or they have symptoms of flu.If you think you have symptoms of flu be mindful of the people around you. Catch coughs or sneezes in tissues and bin them immediately. Try to reschedule plans with friends or family to when you’re feeling better.
Remember that while many people can recover from flu themselves within about a week, it can become extremely serious for more vulnerable residents.