Flu season is upon us! It is that time of year when the most vulnerable members of our society are at risk of complications from the influenza virus and as health professionals, we must play our part in minimising the risk by protecting ourselves and promoting the flu vaccination to those who are eligible.
Who is at higher risk of influenza?
The flu is highly contagious and spread by coughing, sneezing and touching contaminated surfaces. It can be a serious illness for ‘at-risk’ individuals, including:
- Pregnant women
- Young babies and children
- Older people over the age of 65
- People with underlying health conditions
- Residents of care homes
Who should have the flu vaccination?
Many of us recover naturally from the flu if we take good care of ourselves, but for at-risk individuals, there is a chance that the flu virus could cause more serious complications such as pneumonia and bronchitis. Therefore, it is really important for at-risk individuals to receive the free flu jab as a preventative measure.
Similarly, those working with at-risk individuals also need to ensure they receive their free immunisation to protect themselves and their service users. This includes frontline health and social care workers who come into contact with at-risk groups every day.
Aside from this, any healthy member of the public can also choose to have a flu vaccination for a small fee at their local pharmacy, to ensure they are also protected and to reduce the risk of the virus spreading this winter.
About the flu vaccination
The flu vaccine is readily available from pharmacies and doctors’ surgeries across the UK. It is quick, easy and convenient to get your flu jab and there are several types available:
- Eligible children aged between 6 months – 2 years may be offered an injected flu vaccine as the nasal spray is not licensed for children under the age of 2
- Children aged 2-17 can be offered a live attenuated quadrivalent vaccine (LAIV), administered in the form of a nasal spray
- Eligible adults aged between 18-64 can be offered a quadrivalent injected vaccine grown either in eggs or cells (QIVe or QIVc), which are equally suitable
- Adults over 65 may be offered either an adjuvanted trivalent injected vaccine grown in eggs (aTIV) or a cell-grown quadrivalent injected vaccine (QIVc), both of which are equally suitable.
Facts about the flu vaccination
- It takes between 10-21 days for the flu vaccination to offer you full protection against influenza
- No immunisation is 100% effective. However, the flu jab is highly effective at protecting you against the particular strain of flu contained within the vaccine
- You cannot get the flu from having a flu jab, as it contains an inactivated form of the virus; however, you may notice some mild side effects that mirror symptoms of the flu. These are a normal response as your immune system develops protective antibodies
- The flu vaccination protects you from influenza for the season. Therefore, you need to have the flu jab annually to protect yourself from the flu each year
- Autumn is the best time to get your flu vaccine ahead of the flu season
Get your flu jab this winter
Don’t let the flu slow you down this winter. Help to protect yourself, your loved ones and the most vulnerable members of our community by getting your flu jab this year. Find out more about the flu vaccination from the NHS, your GP surgery or your local pharmacy and book yours today.