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Call for people to get flu vaccine amid rise in reported cases

PUBLISHED: 17:12 08 January 2018 | UPDATED: 17:12 08 January 2018

The entrance to the NHS Walk in Centre at Rouen House. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The entrance to the NHS Walk in Centre at Rouen House. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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A health chief is urging people to get the flu vaccine and look after themselves as rates of the illness are on the rise.

All counties across England have experienced an increase in reported cases of flu this winter, according to a Public Health England spokesman for the East of England.

Among the mixture of flu strains being caught by people is the so-called Aussie flu.

She confirmed that flu consultation rates in Norfolk had increased from 2.9 to 17.4 over four weeks at the end of 2017.

But the vaccine uptake in the region during that time was higher within at-risk groups, compared to the same time last year.

Jo Broadbent, deputy director for healthcare Public Health and workforce at Public Health England, East of England, said: “As we would expect at this time of year, flu levels have increased.

“More people are visiting GPs with flu-like symptoms and we are seeing more people admitted to hospitals with flu.

“Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, cough, sore throat, aching muscles and joints.

“The best advice is to rest, keep warm and drink water. We also recommend people take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower a high temperature and relieve aches.

“The vaccine is the best defence we have against the spread of flu and it isn’t too late to get vaccinated.”

Mr Broadbrent recommended people suffering with flu should catch coughs or sneezes in tissues and bin them, wash hands with soap and warm water and clean surfaces.

Sarah Ambrose, lead nurse at the Norwich Walk in Centre, said: “We had a 130pc increase in attendances on Christmas Day compared to 2016 and 400 additional attendances between Christmas and the New Year.”

She added a “significant number” of these people had coughs/colds and flu symptoms.

Flu patients have been attending A&E departments at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds.

The James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston is treating 11 patients for flu - normal for this time of year.

Swaffham Community Hospital is closed to new admissions due to the flu outbreak.

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