Be a flu fighter if you work or live in a care home

All eligible residents and staff in care homes are being urged to get their flu jab and avoid being struck down with flu this winter.

As winter approaches and coughs, colds and flu start to circulate in the community, it’s important to keep ourselves healthy and well. This is particularly important for those living and working in care homes.

Outbreaks of flu often occur in health and social care settings where people are in close contact with each other. Because flu is so contagious, staff, patients and residents are all at risk of infection. So, if you work or live in care home make sure you get your flu jab.

Lisa Allen, Chief Nurse at Basildon and Brentwood CCG, said: “When so many people live in close quarters flu can spread quickly amongst residents and staff. It can be worse when it strikes vulnerable people such as the elderly, those with disabilities or long-term conditions who can suffer more. We are urging everyone living and working within a care home to get protected and get vaccinated.

“If a carer is struck down by flu they could become too ill to continue in their caring role and may pass on the virus which will make the people they care for seriously ill - especially if they have a lowered immune system.”

Flu spreads by coughs and sneezes and has really unpleasant symptoms. It's not the same as the common cold and is caused by a different group of viruses. The symptoms tend to start more suddenly, be more severe and last longer. Most importantly, flu can hit vulnerable people the hardest with severe symptoms.

Flu vaccination and good respiratory hygiene/cough etiquette are important in preventing the spread of infections in care homes. Staff, residents and relatives can get advice from their GP, local pharmacist, care home or employer. Even if you’ve had the flu vaccination in a previous year it’s important to get it again because the type of virus in circulation changes every year, so the vaccine changes too.

For more information visit www.nhs.uk/staywell