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Statement - Deputy Medical Officer of Health 29/09/2020

Sep 29, 2020


This year the flu vaccine is free for islanders falling within the agreed priority groups. These are:

  • if you are in a clinical risk group, as identified by your GP, pregnant, 65 or over or a care home resident you will be contacted by your GP with a view to vaccination through general practice or a pharmacy. Babies from 6 months to 2 years who are at risk are also included and will be vaccinated through general practice
  • children aged 2-4 will be contacted by HCS for vaccination at nursery or in the GP surgery
  • primary and secondary schoolchildren will be contacted by HCS for vaccination in schools and letters have already been sent about this
  • other arrangements have been made for health care workers, including care home staff and home carers.

It is intended to vaccinate all of those groups in October.

Those 50-64 year olds who do not fall within the ‘at risk’ groups will be contacted by their GPs with a view to vaccination in November via their GP or a pharmacy.

We are asking those 50-64 year olds to please be patient with the GPs, nurses and pharmacists who are administering the vaccine. We have enough stock of the flu vaccine for all the individuals within the groups that I have mentioned.

Influenza can be unpredictable in its severity but if we keep respiratory illnesses under control and limit the spread of flu, it will assist with the prevention of coinfection with flu and COVID which is more severe, reduce winter pressures overall and help reduce transmission of both influenza and COVID.

The information to date is that we must leave 28 days between people having the flu vaccination and the COVID-19 vaccination (when the latter becomes available). So, it is vitally important to be vaccinated against the flu virus as quickly as possible.

Alongside the influenza vaccination, Islanders need to maintain good respiratory hand and touch point hygiene. It’s essential that we all maintain physical distancing and wear masks where appropriate, as this will reduce the likelihood of spreading respiratory infections including COVID.

We also want to reduce confusion over symptoms relating to the flu virus and COVID-19. There is some overlap between the symptoms of flu and COVID –and vaccination helps in this regard as well. In the main flu symptoms tend to come on suddenly whereas COVID symptoms usually come on more slowly.

Flu and COVID symptoms, although similar, do have notable differences.

For the flu, people are likely to have a sudden onset of:

  • fever – a temperature of 38C or above
  • an aching body
  • feeling tired or exhausted
  • and a dry cough

Other symptoms that may be present include

  • a sore throat
  • a headache
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhoea or tummy pain
  • feeling sick and being sick

COVID has three main symptoms:

  • a high temperature or fever
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell and / or taste

If anyone experiences a fever alongside a continuous cough and lack of taste and smell, they must isolate and call the COVID Helpline on 445566. 

For advice on flu, Islanders are advised to speak to their GP.  

To recap: this year the flu vaccine is free for islanders falling within the agreed priority groups I mentioned earlier, which includes 50-64 year olds who are not in at ‘at risk’ group.

If we keep respiratory illnesses under control and limit the spread of flu, it will assist with the prevention of coronavirus and severe coronavirus infections.

Flu and COVID symptoms, although similar, do have notable differences. In the main flu symptoms tend to come on suddenly whereas COVID symptoms usually come on more slowly. Call the Helpline if you think you have COVID and we can arrange for a test.

This year, it is vitally important to be vaccinated against the flu virus as quickly as possible. Please do not delay when flu vaccination is made available to you.

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