Fulham carer urges residents to get free flu jab

A Fulham resident and full-time carer is calling for H&F residents to take up the free flu immunisation this winter.

Jan Silchenstedt, 71, has lived in H&F for more than 15 years with his wife Michelle, known to many as ‘Mimi’.

Jan, of Seagrave Road, is the primary carer to wheel-chair bound Mimi and had the immunisation to reduce the risk of him getting ill this winter, and then possibly passing any illness onto her, since her condition makes her more susceptible to viruses

Discussing the importance of him having the flu vaccine, he said: “Being a main carer for my wife it is very important as she is very frail, so much more open to any illnesses she gets exposed to.”

The immunisation is available for free in Hammersmith & Fulham to young children, residents aged over 65, pregnant women, carers and those with long-term illness. For children it comes as a nasal spray.

Jan, who worked alongside Mimi producing children’s television programmes, suffers from allergy-based asthma, which leaves him reliant on chest medication. He also developed an irregular heartbeat about ten years ago. These factors also make Jan more susceptible to any illness. Until he developed the heart problem, he hadn’t really considered getting a flu immunisation. Now he gets one every year.

“Up until 10 or 12 years ago I didn’t really think about it. But now it is important because I have to not infect my wife and also make sure I look after myself.

“I would say if you have any chest or heart conditions, absolutely go for the immunisation and if you are meeting someone who is elderly and could easily get ill, you should protect yourself so you don’t pass it on. Other residents who have carers should protect themselves by making sure they ask their carers if they have had the vaccine as well.

“People should think about the vaccine very seriously.” 

It is estimated that up to 25,000 H&F residents could contract the virus this winter. Most residents are familiar with the normal unpleasant symptoms of flu, such as fever, cough, headaches and joint pains.

However, for some at-risk residents, flu can lead to severe complications that may even be fatal. Despite this, uptake of the vaccine in H&F has been below average in previous years.

For adults and children aged two to four years, the immunisation is available at GP surgeries, while children in school years 1 and 2 will be offered the vaccination at school.

Many community pharmacies are also offering the immunisation to adults this year.

Who should have the vaccination?

  • Children aged from two to four and those in school years 1 and 2
  • People over 65
  • Pregnant women
  • People with long-term medical conditions
  • Carers
  • Frontline health and social care staff

Find out more about flu and some common misconceptions about the immunisation.

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