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Ignore flu symptoms at your peril, public warned

3 October 2008

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Flu sufferers who convince themselves they “just have a bad cold” are putting their lives at risk, a government health chief has said.

Everyone over 65 is eligible for a free flu vaccination but people with serious heart and chest complaints like asthma, serious kidney or liver disease, diabetes, lowered immunity and people who have suffered a stroke can also get one without charge.

Professor David Salisbury, director of immunisation for the Department of Health, urged at-risk groups to visit their GP for the annual flu jab.

It is estimated that around four million people in England under the age of 64 could benefit from a flu jab.

A survey by the Department of Health showed that one in three people (34%) confuse the flu with a “heavy cold” and half believe in “old wives’ tales” rather than following the advice of their GP when it comes to preventing flu.

More than one in four (28%) believe in feeding a cold and starving a fever, one in 20 think carrying garlic can ward off flu, one in three believe taking vitamin C can cure the flu despite no medical evidence to back this up, and more than one in 10 fear “catching their death” from going outside with wet hair.

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