The Flu Jab: Have you had yours?
As the long nights draw in and temperatures drop, doctors are promoting the opportunity for people to get the free flu vaccination to avoid the winter illness. On average, flu kills around 8,000 people a year in England. Flu is highly infectious and caused by viruses that spread from person to person. The viruses are constantly changing and this is one of the main reasons why people should be vaccinated annually.
During the winter months we are all susceptible to flu, and a bad bout of flu can be much worse than a heavy cold.
The most common symptoms of flu are fever, chills, headache, aches and pains in the joints and muscles, and extreme tiredness. Healthy individuals usually recover within two to seven days, but for some the disease can lead to hospitalisation, permanent disability or even death.
The best way to avoid catching and spreading flu is by having the flu vaccination from your local GP or Pharmacist.
Flu is spread by germs from coughs and sneezes, which can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours and it’s important we reduce the risks of spreading flu by:
washing your hands often with warm water and soap using tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze binning used tissues as quickly as possible
Who should have the flu vaccine?
The injected flu vaccine is offered free of charge on the NHS to people who are at risk. This is to help protect them against catching flu and developing serious complications.
You should have the flu vaccine if you:
- are 65 years old or over
- are pregnant
- have certain medical conditions
- are living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility
- receive a carer’s allowance, or you are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill
Frontline health and social care workers are also eligible to receive the flu vaccine. It is your employer’s responsibility to arrange and pay for this vaccine.
What about children?
The flu vaccine is free on the NHS for:
- children over the age of 6 months with a long-term health condition
- children aged 2 and 3 years on August 31 2018 – that is, born between September 1 2014 and August 31 2016
- hildren in reception class and school years 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5
Children aged between 6 months and 2 years who are eligible for the flu vaccine will receive an injected flu vaccine.
Children eligible for the flu vaccine aged between 2 and 17 will usually have the flu vaccine nasal spray.