Health warning:seasonal flu is here in east London

Figures released by the Health Protection Agency have revealed that the seasonal flu has come early to east London this year.

Consultations in Newham and Hackney and the City are above the London average while Tower Hamlets has had the highest rates of people going to their GP with flu-like symptoms.

Every year, seasonal flu is responsible for the deaths of around 8,000 people in England and Wales. As winter approaches NHS East London and the City is urging local people who are at risk of developing serious complications from seasonal flu to take advantage of a free seasonal flu jab.

People who should have the seasonal flu vaccine are:

• those aged 65 years and over;

• all pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy;

• adults and children (from six months old) with long term conditions;

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• everyone living in a residential or nursing home;

• everyone who cares for an older or a disabled person; and

• all frontline health and social care workers.

Individuals with long-term conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, multiple sclerosis, chronic kidney and liver disease are more likely to get serious complications if they contract the flu and can end up in hospital

Pregnant women, whatever their stage of pregnancy, should be immunised with the seasonal flu vaccine. There is no evidence of risk from vaccinating pregnant women, or those who are breast feeding, with these inactivated viral vaccines.

Anyone who had the seasonal flu vaccine last year will need a new jab this winter because the viruses are different every year and each year a new vaccine is developed to match them.