You may or may not have had the flu jab before, but no matter who you are this is the time of year when you should think about getting the flu jab.
Flu (or Influenza) is not a minor illness by any stretch of the imagination. On average 8,000 people a year die because of flu. So it doesn’t matter who you are, it is worth considering getting the flu jab.
Here are eight reasons why you should get the flu jab.
1.You really don’t want to get flu
Flu is no fun at all. It’s not just a cold – it can be horribly unpleasant. Getting the flu can mean developing the following symptoms.
- a fever – a temperature of 38C or above
- an aching body
- feeling tired or exhausted
- a dry cough
- a sore throat
- a headache
- difficulty sleeping
- loss of appetite
- diarrhoea or tummy pain
- feeling sick and being sick
It’s likely you will be in bed for days if you get the flu.
2. When you protect, yourself you protect others
Getting the flu vaccine serves a dual purpose. To protect yourself and to protect others in the community — especially those who are vulnerable from suffering flu complications.
Grandparents, pregnant mothers, new born babies, those with a weakened immune system, are all groups of people we can help protect by getting the flu jab.
By getting the flu jab you are directly helping out others at risk of complications who haven’t or cannot get the jab themselves.
3. The kids flu jab is a nasal spray – no needles!
Flu can be very unpleasant for adults, let alone children. It can lead to complications, including bronchitis and pneumonia.
Fortunately there is very quick to administer spray available on the NHS for free for:
- children aged 2 and 3 on 31 August 2019 – that is, children born between 1 September 2015 and 31 August 2017
- all primary school children
- children aged 2 to 17 with long-term health conditions
The spray contains a live but weakened flu virus. For a few children this may not be appropriate. Check with your GP.
More information about the child flu jab can be found on the NHS website.
4. The flu jab is free for many
The flu jab is free for a whole range of people. Some places of employment have schemes which can cover some or all of the cost. Make sure to take advantage of such a scheme at your workplace.
Currently the vaccine is recommended and free of charge for if you:
- are 65 years old or over
- are pregnant
- have certain medical conditions
- are living in a long-stay residential care home or another long-stay care facility
- receive a carer’s allowance, or you’re the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill
5. You can get the flu jab even if you are not eligible for a free one
You can pay for the flu vaccine at your local supermarket or pharmacy.
It’s provided on a private patient basis and can cost up to £20.
If you are keen not to spread the virus to others or want to make sure the flu doesn’t leave you in bed for a few days then it is worth looking into. Talk with your pharmacist if you want to know more.
6. The flu strain changes every year
The strains of flu change from year to year and the antibodies (the protection) our bodies make from having the vaccine decrease over time.
In February each year people at World Health Organization look at which strains of flu are most likely to affect us for the following Winter. The injected flu vaccine is a killed vaccine so cannot cause flu itself.
7. You won’t get flu from the flu jab
As the flu vaccination does not contain any live viruses it cannot give you the flu.
When you get the flu jab you may get a slight temperature and aching muscles for a couple of days afterwards, but this is just your body mounting an immune response.
For children, the nasal spray vaccine cannot cause flu because the viruses in it have been weakened to prevent this happening.
The idea that the flu jab gives you flu is a myth.
By Ann-Marie McShane
Public Health Nurse