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We will be holding drop in clinics at our St Damian’s Surgery, Melksham for our patients to come and discuss their concerns with our management team on:

  • Monday 19th November: 9am until 12 noon & 2pm until 4pm.

  • Wednesday 21st November:  9am until 12 noon & 2pm until 4pm.

There will be two public consultations meeting on:

  • Wednesday 5th December at 2pm at the Assembly Hall Melksham

  • Monday 10th December at 7pm in the Town Hall, Melksham.


Although we understand that you may have questions, it would be helpful if you could attend these specific meetings, where we will try and address your concerns and ensure that you receive all of the information that you need at this time. This will enable us to continue the provision of our clinical care, as normal, until a formal decision has been reached.

 Flu vaccinations are running low

Give yourself a Christmas gift

Protect yourself this winter

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Subject to eligibility - please speak to reception




 In the UK the flu vaccine is available each year from late September or early October onwards. It is recommended to get the flu vaccine in the autumn, before outbreaks of flu have started. It takes up to two weeks after vaccination for you to be protected against flu.

  • The flu vaccine does not contain any live flu viruses and cannot give you flu.

In the 2018-19 season, two different types of flu vaccine will be offered in the UK:

  • Those aged 65 or over will be offered a trivalent flu vaccine (protecting against three strains of flu virus) which also contains an adjuvant. (Adjuvants are substances which help to strengthen and lengthen the immune response to the vaccine.) This vaccine is being offered because it has been shown to work better in older adults than vaccines offered in previous years in the UK. The brand name of the vaccine being used in the UK is Fluad which has been licensed for over 20 years and millions of doses have been given in over 30 countries worldwide.
  • Adults from 18 to 64 years in eligible ‘at risk’ groups will be offered a quadrivalent flu vaccine (protecting against four strains of flu virus). Several different brand names are available in 2018-19. Babies and children aged from 6 months to 17 years who cannot have the nasal flu vaccine will also be offered a quadrivalent flu vaccine.

Who should have the vaccine?

  • The adjuvanted trivalent flu vaccine (aTIV)is recommended for everyone aged 65 and over.
  • The Quadrivalent flu vaccine (QIV)is recommended for everyone from 6 months to 64 years in these groups:
  • People with a certain medical condition (see list below)
  • People with learning disabilities
  • People living in a residential or nursing home & Carers of people at risk of complications of the flu
  • Pregnant women
  • Household contacts of people who are immunocompromised
  • Frontline health and social care workers
  • Children aged from 6 months to 2 years (i.e. too young for the nasal flu vaccine) who are at risk from complications of flu
  • Children aged from 2 to 17 years who are at risk from complications of flu and cannot have the nasal flu vaccine

Flu vaccines are recommended for people of all ages with some health conditions who are at greater risk of serious complications of flu. This includes:

  • Respiratory (lung) diseases, including asthma, heart disease, kidney disease or liver disease
  • Neurological (brain or nerve) conditions including learning disability
  • Diabetes
  • A severely weakened immune system (immunosuppression), a missing spleen, sickle cell anaemia or coeliac disease
  • Being seriously overweight (BMI of 40 and above)

Your doctor may recommend the flu vaccine in other circumstances as well

At Risk Groups

Those in the flu At Risk group are:


Over 65s, those with a chronic disease e.g. if you have Diabetes, Asthma (if on inhaled steroids), chronic bronchitis, COPD, chronic kidney disease, liver disease or are on specific drugs that cause your immune system to be suppressed and registered carers. Pregnant ladies are also at risk and are recommended to have a flu vaccination. Please discuss with the midwife if you need further information.


As in previous years, healthy 2 and 3 year olds will be offered an influenza vaccination by way of nasal inhalation (no injection required) and we would encourage parents of children in these age ranges to bring them along to the baby immunisation clinic on a Tuesday or make an appointment with the nurse so they can be immunised. Children already in an At Risk group will be vaccinated as usual.


Flu is an infectious and common viral illness spread by coughs and sneezes.

It's not the same as the common cold. Flu is caused by a different group of viruses. Symptoms tend to be more severe and last longer.

You can catch flu – short for influenza – all year round, but it is especially common in winter, which is why it is also known as "seasonal flu".

Flu causes a sudden high temperature, headache and general aches and pains, tiredness and a sore throat. You can also lose your appetite, feel nauseous and have a cough.

Flu symptoms can make you feel so exhausted and unwell that you have to stay in bed and rest until you feel better.

When to see a doctor

If you are otherwise fit and healthy, there is usually no need to see a doctor if you have flu-like symptoms. 

The best remedy is to rest at home, keep warm and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

You can take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower a high temperature and relieve aches.

You should see a doctor if you have flu-like symptoms and you:

  • are aged 65 or over
  • are pregnant
  • have a long-term medical condition such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease or a neurological disease
  • have a weakened immune system

This is because flu can be more serious for you, and your doctor may want to prescribe antiviral medication.

Antiviral medicine can lessen the symptoms of flu and shorten its duration, but treatment needs to begin soon after flu symptoms start for it to be effective.

Antibiotics are of no use in the treatment of flu because it is caused by a virus and not by bacteria.

How long does flu last?

If you have flu, you generally start to feel ill within a few days of being infected.

Symptoms peak after two to three days and you should begin to feel much better after a week or so, although you may feel tired for much longer.

You are usually infectious – that is, able to pass flu on to others – a day before your symptoms start and for a further five or six days. Children and people with weaker immune systems, such as cancer patients, may remain infectious for longer.

Elderly people and anyone with certain long-term medical conditions are more likely to have a bad case of flu, and are also more likely to develop a serious complication such as a chest infection.

In the UK, about 600 people a year die from a complication of seasonal flu. This rises to around 13,000 during an epidemic.

Preventing the spread of flu

The flu virus is spread in small droplets of fluid coughed or sneezed into the air by an infected person. These droplets can travel a metre or so and infect anyone within range who breathes them in.

Flu can also spread if someone with the virus transfers it on their fingers. For example, if you have flu and you touch your nose or eyes and then touch someone else, you may pass the virus on to them.

Similarly, if you have flu and touch hard surfaces such as door handles with unwashed hands, other people who touch the surface after you can pick up the infection.

You can stop yourself catching flu or spreading it to others by being careful with your hygiene. 

Always wash your hands regularly with soap and water, as well as:

  • regularly cleaning surfaces such as your computer keyboard, telephone and door handles to get rid of germs
  • using tissues to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
  • putting used tissues in a bin as soon as possible

You can also help stop the spread of flu by avoiding all unnecessary contact with other people while you're infectious. You should stay off work until you are no longer infectious and you're feeling better.

The flu vaccine

A flu vaccine is available free on the NHS for:

  • anyone over the age of 65 
  • pregnant women
  • children and adults with an underlying health condition (particularly long-term heart or respiratory disease)
  • children and adults with weakened immune systems

It is given as an annual injection to:

  • adults over the age of 18 at risk of flu (including everyone over 65)
  • children aged six months to two years at risk of flu

The flu vaccine is also given as an annual nasal spray to:

  • children aged two to 18 years at risk of flu
  • healthy children aged two, three and four years old

Despite popular belief, the flu vaccine cannot give you flu as it doesn't contain the active virus needed to do this.

The flu vaccine is available from October this year. Please see flu clinics for more information on who should have the flu vaccine. and how to get it

Flu vaccine for children

In the autumn/winter of 2018/2019 the annual nasal spray flu vaccine will be available for all children aged two and three years old as part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme.

Over time, as the programme rolls out, potentially all children between the ages of two and 16 will be offered vaccination against flu each year with the nasal spray.

Symptoms of flu

The symptoms of flu will usually peak after two to three days and you should begin to feel much better within five to eight days. 

However, you may have a lingering cough and still feel very tired for a further two to three weeks.

Flu can give you any of these symptoms:

  • sudden fever – a temperature of 38°C (100.4°F) or above
  • dry, chesty cough
  • headache
  • tiredness
  • chills
  • aching muscles
  • limb or joint pain
  • diarrhoea or upset stomach
  • sore throat
  • runny or blocked nose
  • sneezing
  • loss of appetite
  • difficulty sleeping

When to visit your GP

If you are otherwise fit and healthy, there is usually no need to visit your GP if you have flu-like symptoms. 

The best remedy is to rest at home, keep warm and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

You can take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower a high temperature and relieve aches.

You should visit your GP if you have flu-like symptoms and you:

  • are 65 years of age or over
  • are pregnant
  • have a long-term medical condition, such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease or a neurological disease
  • have a weakened immune system (the body's natural defence against infection and illness)

Flu can be more serious for these groups and antiviral medication may need to be prescribed.

Read more about how to treat flu and who should see a doctor.

Flu or cold?

The symptoms of flu and the common cold can be similar. Here's how to tell the difference:

Flu symptoms

  • come on quickly and include fever and aching muscles
  • make you feel too unwell to continue your usual activities

Cold symptoms

  • come on gradually
  • affect just your nose and throat
  • are fairly mild, so you can still get around and are usually well enough to go to work

Causes of flu

The flu virus is contained in the millions of tiny droplets that come out of the nose and mouth when someone who is infected coughs or sneezes.

These droplets typically spread about one metre. They hang suspended in the air for a while before landing on surfaces, where the virus can survive for up to 24 hours.

Anyone who breathes in the droplets can catch flu. You can also catch the virus by touching the surfaces that the droplets have landed on if you pick up the virus on your hands and then touch your nose or mouth.

Everyday items at home and in public places can easily become contaminated with traces of flu virus, including food, door handles, the remote control, handrails, telephone handsets and computer keyboards.

It's therefore important to wash your hands frequently to prevent catching and spreading flu.

Read more about how to prevent the spread of flu.

New types of flu

If you become infected with a flu virus, your body will produce antibodies against it. Antibodies are proteins that recognise and fight off germs that have invaded your body. 

Your antibodies will remember this flu virus and fight it if it invades your body again.

But over time the flu virus can change into a different version or strain, which means your body may not recognise it and you can catch flu again.

When the virus changes to a new strain that people have little or no resistance to, it can cause a flu pandemic, which means it can spread globally. This is what happened in the swine flu pandemic of 2009.

Don't pass it on

Catch it

Germs spread easily. Always carry tissues and use them to catch your cough or sneeze.

Bin it

Germs can live for several hours on tissues. Dispose of your tissue as soon as possible.

Kill it

Hands can transfer germs to every surface you touch. Clean your hands as soon as you can.

Diagnosing flu

If you are otherwise fit and healthy, you do not need to see your GP when you have flu.

When you should see your GP

You should see your GP if you have flu and any of the following applies to you:

  • your symptoms have got much worse and include shortness of breath, chest pain or coughing up blood, or you have developed other symptoms that are not typical of flu, such as a rash
  • your symptoms have lasted for longer than a week
  • you have a medical condition that is making your flu worse (see complications of seasonal flu)

Your GP will diagnose flu based on your symptoms and your medical history. If they suspect that your symptoms are caused by a different condition – for example, malaria if you have recently been travelling – you may need to have further tests or a referral to a hospital specialist.

Treating flu

If you have flu, it will usually be possible for you to treat yourself effectively at home.

If this is the case, you should:

  • rest
  • keep warm
  • drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration

If you feel unwell and have a fever, you can take paracetamol or anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen to lower your high temperature and relieve aches.

If you are in a high-risk group and are more likely to suffer complications from flu, your doctor may prescribe antiviral medication.

Antivirals will not cure flu, but they will help to:

  • reduce the length of time you are ill by around one day
  • relieve some of the symptoms
  • reduce the potential for serious complications

Antibiotics are not prescribed for flu as they have no effect on viruses. However, occasionally it may be necessary to treat complications of flu, especially serious chest infections or pneumonia, with a course of antibiotics.

Complications of flu

Complications of flu mostly affect people in high-risk groups, such as the elderly, pregnant women and those who have a long-term medical condition or weakened immune system.

The most common complication is a bacterial chest infection. Occasionally, this can become serious and develop into pneumonia.

A course of antibiotics usually cures a chest infection or pneumonia, but it can very occasionally become life threatening, particularly in the frail and elderly.

Other serious complications are uncommon.

Rare complications

Rare complications include:

  • tonsillitis
  • otitis media – a build-up of fluid in the ear
  • septic shock – infection of the blood that causes a severe drop in blood pressure
  • meningitis – infection in the brain and spinal cord
  • encephalitis – inflammation of the brain

Preventing flu

There are three main ways of preventing flu: good hygiene, such as handwashing and cleaning, flu vaccination and antiviral medicines.

Good hygiene

Preventing the spread of germs is the most effective way of slowing the spread of flu. Always:

  • make sure you wash your hands regularly with soap and water
  • clean surfaces such as your keyboard, telephone and door handles regularly to get rid of germs
  • use tissues to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in a bin as soon as possible

The flu jab

A flu vaccine is available free on the NHS for:

  • anyone over the age of 65 
  • pregnant women
  • children and adults with an underlying health condition (particularly long-term heart or respiratory disease)
  • children and adults with weakened immune systems

It is given as an annual injection to:

  • adults over the age of 18 at risk of flu (including everyone over 65)
  • children aged six months to two years at risk of flu

The flu vaccine is also given as an annual nasal spray to:

  • children aged two to 18 years at risk of flu
  • healthy children aged two and three years old

It is available from September this year. See flu clinics

Do I need the flu jab every year?

Yes. If you're in a high-risk group, you should have the seasonal flu vaccination every year so that you stay protected.

The viruses that cause flu change every year, so this winter's flu will be different from last winter's.

Posted 31.08.18

  Shingles Vaccination

Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine


The vaccine covers the 23 most common serotypes of Streptococcus pneumoniae (the pneumococcus) that are responsible for a range of diseases including meningitis, septicaemia and pneumonia.


Pneumococcal infection occurs in the extremes of age with the highest incidence in infants and the elderly, particularly those over the age of 75 years.


For those at high risk, it is important to ensure that other preventive measures, including influenza vaccination, are implemented ,We will flag such patients so that they can be called for vaccine once the stock situation improves. There are no major concerns about deferring vaccination in over 65 year olds for several months or until next year.


There is no shortage of the PCV13 vaccine used in infants and toddlers but this vaccine is not suitable for protection of older people.


What is shingles?

Shingles (also known as herpes zoster) is caused by the reactivation of an infection of a nerve and the area of skin that it serves, resulting in clusters of painful, itchy, fluid-filled blisters. These blisters can burst and turn into sores that eventually crust over and heal. These blisters usually affect an area on one side of the body, most commonly the chest but sometimes also the head, face and eye.

Who will get the vaccine?

All people who turn 70 or 78 years of age on or after 1 April 2017 are eligible for the vaccine.

The vaccine is also available for those previously eligible but who missed immunisation. For example, anyone in their 70s who was born after 1 September 1942 and has not yet had the vaccine plus anyone aged 79 years who has missed out on the vaccine.

What about people who aren’t 70 or 78, will they be getting it?

People under 70 years of age are at lower risk of shingles but will become eligible for the vaccine in the year following their seventieth birthday.

People aged 80 years and over are not eligible for the shingles vaccination because the vaccine becomes less effective as people get older. If you are worried about shingles speak to your GP.


Pneumococcal Vaccinations

The pneumococcal vaccine protects against serious and potentially fatal pneumococcal infections. It's also known as the "pneumo jab" or pneumonia vaccine.

Pneumococcal infections are caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae and can lead to pneumonia, septicaemia (a kind of blood poisoning) and meningitis. At their worst, they can cause permanent brain damage, or even kill.

Who should have the pneumococcal vaccine?

A pneumococcal infection can affect anyone. However, some people are at higher risk of serious illness and can be given the pneumococcal vaccination on the NHS. These include:

  • babies 
  • adults aged 65 or over
  • children and adults with certain long-term health conditions, such as a serious heart or kidney condition

How often is the pneumococcal vaccine given?

Babies receive the pneumococcal vaccine as three separate injections, at 8 weeks, 16 weeks and one year old.

People over 65 only need a single pneumococcal vaccination, which will protect for life. It is not given annually like the flu jab.

People with a long-term health condition may need just a single one-off pneumococcal vaccination or five-yearly vaccination, depending on their underlying health problem.

For more information please click here


Stop the Flu Infecting You!

Protect yourself this winter Flu Team

Flu Team



BOAHC Telephone: 01225 866611


St. Damian's Clinic Telephone: 01225 898490

Winsley Practice Telephone: 01225 860003


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