FLU vaccines for thousands of vulnerable people will be given out across Huddersfield at the end of the month.
People in ‘at risk’ groups will be able to get the flu jab for free at their GP practice or drop in sessions around the area.
Those defined as being ‘at risk’ are people aged over 65 or anyone with serious heart or chest complaints, such as asthma, people who have suffered a stroke, kidney disease, liver disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, central nervous system problems or a weakened immune system.
Carers of elderly or disabled people are also encouraged to have the jab to prevent passing on the disease or being unable to look after their charges.
The jabs are also recommended for long-term residents in care homes.
The injections contain strains of the flu virus that are expected to be circulating during the coming winter.
But the virus is not live and cannot cause flu in anyone who receives a jab.
A national TV, radio and poster campaign urging people to have the flu jab will start on October 1.
Most healthy working adults do not get the flu jab for free and have to pay privately if they want it.
But some health groups are urging employers to step in and provide jabs for their workforce to protect their business in case of a flu epidemic.
The European Vaccination Group has launched its Flu Fighters campaign, offering vaccination clinics to businesses around the UK.
According to the group, 150 million working days are lost to flu each year, costing the Uk econondy around £6.75bn.
Dr William Holmes, medical director of EVGUK, said: “The NHS rightly focuses its attention on the elderly and high risk groups, but the wider impact of influenza at home and at work is far from trivial. Epidemics of flu hit businesses and the working community hard. Flu vaccination is a safe and cost effective intervention.”
Despite the benefits to business, a new survey by YouGov has revealed that 73% of businesses admit they do not have sufficient contingencies in place to cope with a flu pandemic.
Pandemic flu is caused when a new virus emerges which is capable of spreading in the worldwide population.
Experts say the overall economic impact of a flu pandemic could cost the UK £95bn and the World Health Organisation is forecasting that the country is closer to a flu pandemic than it has ever been in the past 40 years.
Russell Price, chairman of business support organisation Continuity Forum, said: “This research shows that despite the warnings, the vast majority of firms do not have sufficient plans in place to respond to the very considerable impact a pandemic would cause.”
The YouGov polled revealed that only around 16% of businesses believe they are prepared for a flu pandemic.
The best-prepared firms are those with more than 250 staff, especially those in the financial and medical sectors.
Fortunately for Huddersfield residents, Kirklees Primary Care Trust has a plan to deal with a potential flu pandemic.
A spokeswoman said: “The PCT has extensive plans and committees in place to oversee its response to a flu pandemic. These plans have been developed over a number of years, amended to meet the new threats that emerge.Š
“The PCT will continue to work through various exercises and scenarios to improve its response to any flu pandemic should it occur. The PCT has also been involved at a regional and national level, in supporting the way in which the NHS tackles a flu pandemic.2
A new national plan to deal with a flu pandemic is to be published soon by the Department of Health.
Influenza is highly contagious and is spread by sneezing, coughing and hand contact.
Symptoms include sudden fever with a temperature of around 40°C, sweating, muscle aches and pains, tiredness, cough, sneezing, running or blocked nose and difficulty sleeping. Babies and small children with flu can also suffer from poor feeding, lethargy, floppy limbs, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Symptoms are similar to a heavy cold but flu affects the lungs more and does not produce the congested, heavy-headed feeling a cold does.