ARE YOU ELIGIBLE FOR A FLU VACCINATION?
IF SO, HAVE YOU BOOKED IN FOR YOUR FLU VACCINATION?
NORTON CANES PRACTICE WILL BE OFFERING FLU JABS TO ALL ELIGIBLE REGISTERED PATIENTS
Flu symptoms can hit quite suddenly and severely. They usually include fever, chills, headaches and aching muscles. You can often get a cough and sore throat.
Because flu is caused by a virus and not bacteria, antibiotics won't treat it, however, the flu vaccine will help to prevent it. The vaccine is safe and has been used for many years.
Anyone can get flu, but it can be more serious for certain people, such as:
- people aged 65 or over
- people who have a serious medical condition
- pregnant women
If you are in one of these groups, you're more vulnerable to the effects of flu (even if you're fit and healthy) and could develop flu complications, which are more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia, which could result in hospitalisation.
Flu can also make existing medical conditions worse.
Should you have the flu jab?
If you’re 65 or over, or if you have any of the following problems (however old you are):
- a serious heart complaint
- a chest complaint or breathing difficulties, including asthma, bronchitis and emphysema
- serious kidney disease
- lowered immunity due to disease or treatment such as steroid medication or cancer treatment
- if you have had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
- if you have a problem with your spleen or you have had your spleen removed
- if you a nominated Carer for someone
- at risk pupils from the Fluenz Pilot for School Years 7 and 8 who do not meet the inclusion criteria (e.g. have an egg allergy)
Your GP may advise you to have a flu jab if you have serious liver disease, multiple sclerosis or some other diseases of the nervous system.
What is influenza?
- Influenza or 'flu' is a viral infection that mainly affects the nose, throat and the lungs.
- Influenza is worse than an ordinary cold. It usually starts suddenly with a high fever which can last for 3-4 days.
- A dry cough, headaches and chills are common as are general muscle aches and pains. A stuffy nose, sneezing and a sore throat can also be present. The fever tends to decrease after the second day when a stuffy nose and a sore throat become more noticeable. Some children may also feel sick (nausea), or have diarrhoea. Tiredness can last 2-3 weeks.
- A cold is often limited to a runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, throat irritation and do not cause a fever or body aches.
Who catches influenza?
- Anyone can catch flu; the highest rates of infection are usually in school age children.
- Most influenza infections occur during the winter months.
- Depending on the particular strain that is circulating, some influenza viruses can cause more severe illness than others. Hence in some winters the number of people unwell with flu may be more than in other years.
How do you catch influenza?
- Influenza is mostly caught by breathing in air containing the virus when an infected person coughs/sneezes or by touching a surface where the virus has landed and then touching your mouth or nose.
How infectious is influenza?
- Influenza is infectious and can spread rapidly from person to person. Some strains of virus are more infectious than others. Influenza is most infectious when symptoms start until about 3-5 days later.
How serious is influenza?
- Most people recover completely from influenza in a matter of days or a week.
- For others, for example older people, pregnant women, those with other illnesses (such as chest or heart disease, or diabetes) and newborn babies, influenza can be a serious illness.
- Serious illness from influenza can be caused either by the virus itself causing a severe viral pneumonia, to a secondary bacterial infection causing bronchitis and pneumonia or to a worsening of any underlying chronic medical condition such as heart disease.
Can you prevent influenza?
- Vaccine is available to protect against flu. Each year a new vaccine has to be produced to protect against the flu viruses expected to be in circulation that winter and to boost the immune response.
- The vaccine is very safe and side effects are uncommon and usually mild.
How can you reduce the risk of influenza transmission in schools?
- Keep children and staff that are ill away from school – they should remain off until they are symptom free and well enough.
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water and dry thoroughly
- Avoid touching surfaces (such as door handles) and then the face
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and dispose of used/dirty tissues in a bin – “Catch it, Bin it, Kill it”
How can you treat someone with influenza?
- Most people with the flu need no special treatment. Influenza is caused by a virus so antibiotics do not help unless there is a complication. Occasionally a special 'antiviral' medicine is given to people in the at risk groups or whose illness is getting worse.
- Someone who is ill with flu should stay at home, keep warm, rest and drink lots of fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Paracetamol can be given to reduce the fever; aspirin must NOT be given to children under 16 years of age.
I had the vaccine last year – am I still covered?
- No - You need to get a flu vaccine every year to protect yourself against the viruses that research suggests are most likely to circulate each season. There are two reasons for getting a flu vaccine every year:
- The first reason is that because flu viruses are constantly changing, flu vaccines may be updated from one season to the next to protect against the viruses research indicates may be most common during the upcoming flu season.
- The second reason that annual vaccination is recommended is that a person’s immune protection from the vaccine declines over time. Annual vaccination is needed for optimal protection.
- I don’t have time to get an appointment
- Most GP practices across the area will be holding extra clinics to enable as many people as possible get the vaccine they need. It only takes approximately 2 minutes to have the injection and ensure there are no immediate side effects.
- If you don’t get the vaccine and develop the flu virus instead, you could lose a lot more time being off work or school or even in hospital – the choice is yours!
- To find out more about whether you are eligible for a free vaccine or to make an appointment, please contact your GP practice. They are best placed to know your medical background and to advise you on what you need to do next.
For More Information on the Flu Vaccination click here