Our retail operations director, Andrew Gibb, shares his thoughts on the upcoming flu season and talks about the role pharmacy can play in fighting the virus.
As the days get shorter, and we start to run out of pages on our 2016 calendar – there’s so much still to look forward to. Winter is coming! But with it, a high risk of contracting influenza.
Between October and April each year we’re fated to endure the dreaded flu season. If you’ve ever experienced having flu or some of the related symptoms, you’ll know it’s something that should be avoided.
Over 1 million GP appointments are made each year relating to flu. Not to mention the tens of thousands of people who are admitted to hospital as a result of it. This only adds to the on-going pressures that our national health service is facing into at the moment.
On top of this there is still a misconception amongst the public that antibiotics can cure cold and flu, which is, of course, a myth. In the context of a widespread antibiotic resistance issue, patients need to have access to the right information and support. Pharmacists are in a great position to provide this.
So, what can pharmacy do to help combat flu this year and ease the strain on our NHS?
For most people, flu is a very unpleasant, uncomfortable, but usually manageable illness. It can take a few days or weeks to fully recover. However, for some, the more serious effects of flu can present very real danger.
Particularly for the more at risk categories like the elderly, pregnant and for people managing long term conditions, it’s extremely important to be cautious of flu. For these groups, it’s highly recommended that they take advantage of the free flu vaccinations that they’re eligible to receive.
It’s great news for community pharmacy as a whole that it’s been re-commissioned to deliver the extremely popular flu vaccination service this year. This highlights the capability of pharmacists to be able to deliver vital national healthcare services like this. It’s particularly pleasing to see our profession being recognised for all of the hard work and success of last year’s programme.
Last year in the UK almost 600,000 flu vaccinations were delivered to patients through pharmacy, and in our LloydsPharmacy stores alone we reached out to over 80,000 patients in local communities.
On top of our in-store service, we offer corporate flu jab schemes for companies that want to protect their employees from flu. With 7.6 million working days lost as a result of flu each year, this is an increasingly popular option for employers.
Pharmacists are by far the most accessible healthcare professionals. In most cases you can pop into your nearest store on the high street and take advantage of their expert service, as well as the wide range of cold and flu treatments.
When it comes to flu, our priority at LloydsPharmacy is to make it easier for our customers and patients in local communities to access the best advice and treatments.
From dispensing medication in our pharmacies to delivering vaccinations, across our Celesio UK family, we’re taking the fight to flu this year!