Annual immunisation against flu is a very important health protection measure for many of our patients – those who are over 65 and those who have increased risk factors such as lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, neurological disease, and those with a weakened immune system. A wealth of evidence supports the safety and effectiveness of immunisation. For further information visit NHS Choices.
Ban the Bug
Our GP surgeries run special flu clinics between September and February that are dedicated to giving flu vaccinations and where appropriate pneumococcal vaccinations to our patients. It takes around 2 weeks after the vaccine to develop immunity, so these clinics enable us to reach more of our patients as soon as possible after the vaccine becomes available. If you receive an invitation to attend the clinic, please make an appointment as soon as possible. It is important to get vaccinated as early as you can to ensure you are protected.
What is flu and is it really that dangerous?
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, hospitalisation, and at times can lead to death. Every year the virus is different and affects people differently. Flu is spread though small droplets of saliva from coughing or sneezing. It can also be picked up from surfaces such as door handles through unwashed hands. Even healthy people can spread the virus. Symptoms show on average 2 days after the virus is caught. Those with the virus are infectious for up to a week, often starting a day before their symptoms show. Flu can present with the following symptoms:
- Fever although a fever is not always present
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Aching body
- Headache, chills
- Feeling tired
- Diarrhoea and vomiting usually in children
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Severe or persistent vomiting.
Further information is available on the NHS Choices website.
Flu can also cause further complications like bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infection and the worsening of chronic diseases such as congestive heart failure, asthma and diabetes. Therefore, flu is a potentially dangerous virus, which can be easily protected against!
How does the vaccine work?
Every year a new vaccination is produced to protect against the strains of flu which will be circulating within the UK. The vaccine consists of three dead deactivated strains of flu virus, therefore the immunisation does not give you flu. Instead, the vaccine causes the body’s immune system to make anibodies, which are able to fight off the flu virus. After 10-14 days, your body will react to any infection by the flu viruses by producing these antibodies to protect you. If you are pregnant when you receive the vaccination, your child will also be protected within its early months. Over time your body will stop producing these antibodies, which means that you will be less able to fight off the flu viruses. As a result you must be vaccinated every year to ensure that you are always protected. Remember that the protection will not diminish over the flu season; if you are vaccinated you will be covered for the whole season.
Please click here for our ‘Flu Myths’ buster guide