Which flu vaccine should your child have?

There are two types of flu vaccine available for children in – a nasal spray and an injected vaccine, so who should get which?

• Children under 6 months are too young to be vaccinated (although expectant mothers aren’t!)
• Children aged 6 months to 2 years get the injected vaccine – two doses four weeks apart – although they are only eligible if they are in an ‘at risk’ group
• All children aged 2-6 on 31 August 2015 are all eligible flu vaccine and should get the nasal spray unless there are medical reasons (severely asthmatic or immunocompromised) for giving them an injected flu vaccine.
• Children aged 7-17 are eligible for vaccination if they are in an ‘at risk’ group, and will usually get the nasal spray.

Which flu vaccine should your child have?

At risk children are those with long term health conditions such as asthma and other respiratory diseases, liver, kidney and neurological conditions including learning disabilities, even if well managed.

Ask one of our pharmacists if you are not sure.

Diabetes back in the news…

Five million people in England have blood sugar levels that indicate they are at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, according to a recent report from Public Health England.

Having high blood glucose levels significantly increases your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, which is a serious health condition which affects 2.9 million people in England, and can lead to devastating complications such as blindness, amputations and stroke, and ultimately early death.

Look out for the symptoms of diabetes

The new estimate further underlines the need to for people to take preventative action by losing weight, being more active and having a healthier diet. The condition already results in 22,000 early deaths and costs the NHS £8.8billion every year.

The NHS spends 10 per cent of its entire budget managing diabetes and unless we all get better at preventing Type 2 diabetes this figure will rise to unsustainable levels.

Busting the myths about primary care

Increasing GP numbers alone will not solve problems in primary care. So says the NHS Confederation, which says that healthcare in the community should be universally accessible and supplied by a multi-professional team.

Primary care includes your community pharmacy, high street opticians and dental practices as well as GPs.

Are more GPs the answer?

It is a myth that A&E is the first port of call for most patients. Around 90 per cent of care takes place in the community. While demand for GP services rose by 13 per cent between 2008 and 2013/14, consultations with nurses rose by 8 per cent and with other primary care professionals, including pharmacists, by 18 per cent.

It is also a myth that primary care is only used by patients with minor ailments. A significant percentage of GP workload relates to managing long-term conditions, such as diabetes, or cardiac disease in the over 65s. Some 60 per cent of this last group will have more than 12 GP visits per year and have over 24 items dispensed in their local pharmacy.

Are you – or your grandparents – eligible for shingles vaccination?

Shingles is an infection of a nerve and the area of skin around it. It is caused by the herpes varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox, and it can be quite unpleasant!

After a chickenpox infection, the virus can lie dormant in the nervous tissue but may reappear following reactivation as shingles. It is possible to have shingles more than once.

Shingles – are you eligible for vaccination?

A universal shingles vaccination programme started in September 2013 which aims to reduce the incidence and severity of shingles disease in older people.

If you were born between 2 September 1942 and 1 September 1945 (ie aged 70-72) or 2 September 1935 and 1 September 1937 (ie aged 78 or 79) then you are eligible for vaccination this year.

Check with one of our pharmacists if you need to know more about which vaccinations you are entitled to as part of the NHS Immunisation Programme.

Pester power not exclusive to young children – employers are good at it too

Did you get away for a well-deserved break over the holiday period? Did your boss try to get in touch while you were away?

An online YouGov poll commissioned by the mental health charity MIND has found that 24 per cent of workers said their employer had tried to contact them while they were away. The survey of over 1,250 employees highlights how the boundaries between work and life are becoming increasingly blurred.

Work/life balance is linked to good mental health

The research also indicated that only half of respondents said that their manager respects that they have a life outside work, while nearly 3 in 10 (28 per cent) admitted that they often check work email outside of work.

MIND points out that we all need a good work/life balance to help unwind and stay mentally healthy. With stress now the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK, it’s in employers’ interests to ensure that they look after the wellbeing of their staff, says the charity.

The fight against overuse of antibiotics gathers pace

Despite universal agreement that the prescribing of antibiotics should be reduced, 9 out of 10 GPs say they feel pressured to prescribe them, and 97 per cent of patients who ask for antibiotics get them.

In another bid to reduce inappropriate use, the government’s medicines watchdog, NICE, has published guidance for GPs on the sensible use of antibiotics.

Are we all part of the solution or part of the problem?

Some 10 million prescriptions a year in England for antibiotics are ‘inappropriate’, said NICE’s Professor Mark Baker, who suggested that over prescribing doctors might need to be disciplined.

But he also said it is not just doctors who are at fault. “It’s often patients themselves who, because they don’t understand that their condition will clear up by itself, or that perhaps antimicrobials aren’t effective in treating it, may put pressure on their doctor to prescribe an antibiotic when it is not indicated.”

NICE will be ‘educating the public’ so expect to hear more on this topic – not least from your local pharmacy.