A doctor at Ysbyty Gwynedd’s Intensive Care Unit, who has seen first-hand the devastating results of flu, is encouraging others who are eligible to get vaccinated.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board have seen over 370 cases of flu at their hospitals since October and are reminding people it’s not too late to get vaccinated.

Influenza, more commonly known as the flu, is a respiratory illness, affecting the lungs and airways and circulates each year in the UK during the winter months (generally October to April).

Consultant Anaesthetist Dr Edward Farley-Hills has seen a number of patients admitted to hospital with severe complications caused by flu during his 18 years working at Ysbyty Gwynedd.

He said: “Over the years I have seen a number of cases of flu, these have included young people who have become seriously ill.

“A lot of people believe flu is one of those illnesses that will clear up in a few days, such as a cold and in most cases it can, but occasionally it can sometimes lead to multi organ failure and even death.

“Unfortunately I have seen a number of patients ending up with multi organ failure due to the flu and sadly some who have died throughout my career.

“They can come into hospital with a number of symptoms, including diarrhoea, a high temperature or generally feeling very unwell.

“Some people come in to us at the Intensive Care Unit who are already presenting with respiratory failure and are very sick.

“I’ve often heard families asking how can they be so ill with flu? Sadly, many people are just not aware of how serious it can sometimes be.”

Anyone can get the flu and the flu virus is easily passed from person to person. Flu can spread rapidly especially in closed communities such as residential homes.

A vaccine is developed for each season which is offered free to some children, everyone aged 65 or over and people in certain ‘at-risk’ groups who are more likely to develop complications as a result of having flu.

“I ensure I have my flu jab every year, I think it’s extremely important for all health care workers to get vaccinated as well as those who are at risk in our communities.

“Working in the Intensive Care Unit you see how sick people can get from the flu – it can happen to anyone, young and older people.

“The effects of flu really can be life-threatening and I think the staff on the Intensive Care Unit are very aware of that fact which is why there is such a high uptake of staff having the flu jab on the ward.

“As a health worker it’s our duty to have the jab so we can protect our patients and each other,” added Dr Farley-Hills.

Free vaccines are still available, so ask at your surgery or local pharmacy today.
If you are in any of the following risk groups, you are entitled to a free flu jab:

  • Aged 65 years and over
  • Living in a residential or nursing home
  • Unpaid Carer of an older or disabled person
  • Pregnant (at any stage of pregnancy)
  • Aged 6 months and over with chronic conditions such as asthma, chest or heart complaints, kidney disease, disabetes, neurological condition or suppressed immunity
  • Child aged 2 or 3
  • Child in Reception Class or School Years 1 – 6
  • Obese with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or over
  • Health or social care worker in an adult care home (vaccination available from your local Pharmacy)
  • Member of a voluntary organisation providing care, planned first aid or a community first responder

For further information visit: http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/861/page/56217