Protect yourself from seasonal flu (Influenza) this winter
Flu is not just a bad cold!
Flu is a highly infectious disease and a bad bout of flu can lead to hospitalisation, disability and even death. The most common symptoms of flu include fever, chills, headache, aches and pains in the joints and muscles, and extreme tiredness. Healthy individuals may recover within a week, but if you belong to the ‘at-risk’ group mentioned below and get the flu, it can lead to serious health complications like pneumonia (swelling of the air sacs in the lungs making it difficult to breathe, meningitis (swelling of lining of the brain and the spinal cord), infection of tonsils, ear and brain; and even death.
Did you know?
Last year in the year 2013-14, out of the 87,057 people residing in Central Bedfordshire, who were eligible for Flu vaccination, only 55,424 received vaccination; and we could not achieve expected numbers.
Across Bedfordshire 1531 people with flu related respiratory complications were hospitalised with a direct hospital cost of £ 5.59 million. Out these 278 people died with flu related pneumonia. Much of this can be avoided by receiving a vaccine.
How can you protect yourself against influenza?
A safe, effective, annual influenza vaccination is available free of charge for groups who are at risk of influenza. These groups include:
- Pregnant women
- All those aged 65 or older
- Those aged below 65 with a long-term health condition (e.g. asthma, heart or liver disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease or motor neuron disease or weakened immune system).
- Those living in a care/residential home
- Formal carers
- Health and social care workers
- Children aged 2, 3 or 4 years
If you belong to one of these groups; speak to your GP to book a vaccination appointment or speak to your local pharmacy as they may also provide free flu vaccination.
These pharmacies (PDF 71KB) offer free immunisation to 'At Risk' groups in Central Bedfordshire.
If you are a clinician, health/social care worker, or care home employee, find out from your workplace about vaccination.
If you are not eligible for free flu vaccination, you are still able to receive the vaccination for a small payment, contact your local pharmacist for details.
Stop the Spread!
Help prevent the spread of flu, for example, by covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, regularly washing hands with soap and water and by throwing used tissues in the bin.
Help yourself, your family, your friends and the population by receiving a flu vaccine.
For information for Services for Older People please visit our Helping you live as independently as possible page
For more information on Health Services in Central Bedfordshire please visit our Health Services page
To find out more about how we are improving the quality of life of our residents please visit our page Healthier Communities and Older People
What is Healthwatch?
The government wants local people to have a voice within health and social care services. This is part of changes the government wants to make to health and social care, with new organisations called Healthwatch to give citizens and communities a stronger voice to influence and challenge how local services are provided.
For more information view the video - Who Are We
Contact Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire:
0300 303 8554
For help and support for adults with disabilities please visit our page Living with a disability
- Obesity is a clinical term used when a person’s weight is above 30 Body Mass Index (BMI). You can calculate your BMI by using the BMI calculator
- Obesity can be linked to Type 2 Diabetes, Coronary Heart Disease, risk of stroke, joint problems, depression, infertility, various cancers, sleep apnoea, hypertension, social discrimination, asthma and shortened life expectancy.
- To help prevent Obesity we must be more active and make changes to our diet to eat more healthily.
In Central Bedfordshire Public Health has commissioned a range of services to support people who are overweight (BMI of 25+) or obese (BMI of 30+).
For families there are 2 programmes; BeeZee Tots and BeeZee Bodies.
This is a fun, sociable and interactive programme designed for all families with children aged between 2 – 4yrs.
The activities include:- Cook and eat sessions, fun games and activities, practical parent workshops delivered by a dietitian and coffee time to meet new parents.
The programme consists of 6 x weekly sessions held in Children’s Centres across Central Bedfordshire.
If you would like more information about this programme please contact Helen Mayhew 01234 363774
This is a Family Weight Management Programme for 5-15 year olds and their families. The age groups are 5-8, 7-11 and 12-15.
There are 17 x weekly sessions which run in Houghton Regis/Dunstable, Leighton Buzzard, and Sandy/Biggleswade.
The programme covers a range of subjects:-
- Practical and realistic advice and ideas about how to live a healthy lifestyle
- Help to manage your child’s weight
- Sessions are for parents/carers and child/young person
- Enhance children’s self confidence
- Practical healthy eating sessions including quick, easy and cheap recipe ideas
- Advice about portion sizes your child should have and how to say no!
- Loads of great activities like Basketball, Streetdance and Tennis.
If you would like more information or to book a place on BeeZee Bodies contact Helen Mayhew 01234 363774
For adults we have commissioned services around Healthy Eating and Exercise.
You can access this programme through your GP dependent on you meeting certain criteria which take into account your health and wellbeing. It is a 12 week course based at one of our Leisure Centres and includes some Gym based activities and some other sessions using a variety of activities to suit your exercise needs.
Once you have been referred by your GP, you will be contacted by a member of the Physical Activity Team who will arrange a meet and greet session to get you started.
Slimming World and Weight Watchers Referral Scheme
You can access this through your GP dependent on you meeting certain criteria which takes into account your BMI and other associated health needs, as well as your monetary circumstances.
Once you have been referred by your GP and you have contacted Slimming World or Weight Watchers, you will be sent a book of 12 vouchers. You will then have access to 12 weeks free attendance and 16 weeks on-line support.
The aim of the programme is to achieve 5% weight loss and make a positive behaviour change to a healthier lifestyle.
We are also working with schools, businesses, health professionals as well as the general public to support everyone who lives in Central Bedfordshire, to raise the issue of obesity and signpost them to the appropriate help.
National Child Measurement Programme
The NCMP is a government initiative which all Local Authorities must deliver every year. It began in 2005.
Every child in Reception year (age 4-5) and year 6 (age 10-11) is weighed and measured. The individual results are sent out to parents for their information, with advice and support if necessary. This could be ‘How to book a place at BeeZee Bodies’ or signposting to ‘Change4life’.
The results from each year band are collated and will help to guide us to where our support will be most effective. Over time we are able to build up a picture of the height and weight of our children within Central Bedfordshire and make sure that we put the correct services in place to support both children and adults.
Eat well, Move more, Live longer
The Change4life campaign is a very good starting point with lots of ideas and free resources to download. Go to Change for Life for activities for families in your area and healthy recipes.
‘Pat’ Do something!
This is a free app to download onto your phone that will find clubs, organisations, societies and activities that are going on near you.
To download the app go to:- Pat Do Something
If you are between 40 – 74 years of age, and are not already visiting your GP for a long term condition such as, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease or have had a stroke or heart attack, then be sure to have your free Health Check.
Health Checks are offered to help prevent some of these medical conditions. You will find more information about Health Checks on the Public Health pages of the Central Bedfordshire website.
Here are some more websites that you might find useful:-
British Heart Foundation
Team Beds and Luton 'Get Back Into'
For more information about Obesity and the services and support that Public Health can provide, please contact:-
Nicola Sinden – Public Health Co-ordinator for Obesity. 03003005569
If you would like to get involved in sport or leisure activities locally, there are lots of opportunities.
Find information about local leisure centre's, sports and fitness facilities and sports clubs on the Council' sports and leisure pages
Facilities for disabled people
You can find information about sports and leisure facilities for disabled people in the Council's sports and clubs directory.
Visit Central Bedfordshire Councils website Sports and Clubs Directory: Directory
For further local information visit the Disability Resource Centre
Leisure Activities for People aged over 50
- University of the 3rd Age
Bedford U3A was formed in 1989 and provides recreational, academic and social activities in an informal and relaxed manner which is designed to suit most tastes.
Visit Sports and Clubs Directory: Directory
Find out more about Transport options: Transport
Find out more about Local Events: Local events
Sexual health - sexually transmitted diseases
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are caused by viruses and bacteria that are passed on during sexual intercourse. Some STIs, such as HIV and hepatitis, are blood-borne viruses. These can also be passed on by sharing needles and other drug-taking equipment.
STIs affect one in nine people. Many are easily treated, but some (including HIV) are not.
It is not always obvious if you or your partner has an STI as many have no symptoms. The best thing to do is make sure you always use a condom during sexual activity. If you may have come into contact with an STI, visit your doctor or local genito-urinary medicine (GUM) clinic immediately.
Central BedfordshireStop Smoking Service is a specialist team within Public Health whose main role is to help local people stop smoking.
The service has a range of support options across Central Bedfordshire, including group, one to one and telephone support as well as specialist pregnancy support. These are provided in a wide range of venues including health centres, pharmacies, GP surgeries, community centres, libraries and many more.
The service is provided by friendly trained specialist stop smoking advisors, who offer a non- judgemental and supportive service. They will provide practical and expert advice on the most suitable treatment for you and give a wide range of coping strategies to help you be successful. They will discuss and facilitate access to the most appropriate medication to help you stop smoking.
For more information or to book an appointment, please call the team on 0800 013 0553 and press 1 for Central Bedfordshire.
The Kick Ash programme is an award winning young person led smoking prevention programme. Year 10 pupils in upper schools are trained to work as mentors to support year 8 pupils and year 5/6 pupils in partner middle schools. The mentors act as smoke free role models and help other young people to recognise what may influence their decision to smoke and how to combat that.
The programme is in line with NICE guidance and guided by the ‘diffusion of innovation’ and ‘social learning’ theories.
On top of mentoring younger children, Kick Ash volunteers lead on other campaign activities and are supported by professionals. Activities include:
- Communications - working with the local media, coordinating events, leading social media activity
- Smoking Cessation - developing stop smoking services for young people in their school, leading no smoking day activities in their community
- Trading Standards - working with Central Bedfordshire Trading Standards team conducting business visits and test purchasing.
Rosie Michaels, lead teacher at All Saints Academy in Dunstable said ‘I think Kick Ash has the potential to make a massive impact nationally with young people. The mentors developed amazing confidence when it comes to public speaking; a task never easy when delivering presentations, particularly to your peers. Their self-esteem has increased substantially and they have all made new friends during the programme. The benefits for the school have also been fantastic. The ethos around smoking has completely changed for our students, leading to what appears to be considerably fewer students smoking on site.’
Originating in Cambridgeshire, the pilot school saw a 5% decrease (18% to 13%) in the number of year 10 students reporting that they smoked regularly compared to a 0.5% decrease across the county. Furthermore the stop smoking service has experienced a triple fold increase in the number of young people accessing stop smoking services.
For further information visit www.kickash.org.uk
To find out more information on helping people keep warm and healthy in their homes please visit our page Warm Homes Healthy People
There are over 29 million people in the UK who spend a significant amount of their waking hours at work and the government recognises that the workplace is a crucial setting to improve the health of adults, leading to a better quality of life in later years.
The Healthy Workplace Programme provides any business or workplace in Central Bedfordshire with free support, signposting and advice on improving the health and wellbeing of their most important asset - their staff!
For further information visit our Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace page