A RISE in influenza cases at Leighton Hospital has led to a public reminder that the flu jab is still available.

Reports by Public Health England show that the common infection viral illness, spread by coughs and sneezes, is now circulating in Vale Royal and south Cheshire.

A small but growing number of cases have also been confirmed at the hospital in Crewe, and the county’s NHS leaders say we can still get vaccinated against flu this winter, and that there are simple steps to follow to help reduce the risk of the virus spreading.

Tracy Bullock, chief executive of Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which manages Leighton Hospital, said: “As a Trust we follow a number of measures to prevent the spread of flu, including offering all of our staff a vaccination to protect themselves, their loved ones and patients.

“There are also steps we can all take to reduce the effects of flu on the hospital and the wider community.

“We would encourage the public not to visit the hospital, or any other care setting, if they have recently been unwell or had recent contact with someone with flu-like symptoms.

“Maintaining good cough and hand hygiene can also help to prevent the spread of germs and reduce the risk of transmission. This includes washing your hands often with warm water and soap, using tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze, and binning used tissues as quickly as possible.”

For those who are otherwise fit and healthy, the best thing to do to treat flu is to stay at home, keep warm and drink plenty of fluids. Over the counter medicines like paracetamol and ibuprofen can help to tackle symptoms like fever, coughs, sore throats, and aching muscles.

Dr Andrew Wilson, GP and chairman of NHS South Cheshire CCG, said: “For most people flu is just very unpleasant and will usually clear up by itself within a week, but for some it can be life threatening.

“We’re therefore urging anyone who belongs to an ‘at risk’ group to get their free flu vaccination as soon as possible.

“By having the flu vaccination, which is the best protection we have against the virus, people can protect themselves and their loved ones.”

A flu vaccine is available free of charge for anyone over the age of 65, pregnant women, those with a serious long-term health condition, those living in a long-stay residential care home, and those who receive a carer’s allowance or are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person.

It’s also free on the NHS for children over the age of six months with a long-term health condition, children aged two and three, and children in reception class through to Year 5.