On the same day that NHS staff up and down the country have been told to protect themselves and their patients by getting the winter flu vaccine, people in Swindon are being encouraged to follow suit. 

Flu, which becomes more common during the autumn and winter months, is much more than just a heavy cold and can keep even the most-healthy person in bed for a week or even longer. 

Medical experts recommend the seasonal flu vaccine, often referred to as the flu jab, as the most effective form of defence against the common winter virus. 

People in Swindon can get a head start on protecting themselves and those closest to them by booking their flu jab early.

The vaccine is available directly from a patient's GP surgery or at most high-street and supermarket pharmacies.

Some groups of people, such as those aged over 65, those with long term conditions such as asthma and diabetes and pregnant women, qualify for a free flu jab. 

The advice to Swindon patients comes on the same day that an open letter, signed by 15 of the most influential and leading figures in healthcare, calls on all NHS staff to lead by example and get the winter flu vaccine. 

A target to vaccinate 100 per cent of all patient-facing healthcare workers has been introduced by the government ahead of the 2018/19 winter season. 

Last year, more than 85 per cent of frontline staff at Swindon's Great Western Hospital had the vaccine. 

Click here or visit www.nhs.uk to learn more about flu and to find details of where to get this year's vaccine. 

Survey for people with long term conditions

Health professionals from across the region would like to hear from people living with asthma, diabetes or heart disease ahead of this year's approaching flu season. 

The colder months of the year can be a particularly difficult time for people with long term conditions, which is why staying protected against flu is so important. 

However, many people still choose to put off getting the flu jab.

To help understand why, people with any of the conditions mentioned above are being asked to complete a short online survey which asks what would make them more likely to have the vaccine. 

Click here or copy this web address - www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/YWL2BL8 - into any internet browser to take part. 

The survey will be live throughout the whole of September and all responses are anonymous.