The flu can be an unpleasant experience, that’s why the National Health Service provide a standard flu vaccination to help people who may need extra protection.
Typically for most healthy adults, the flu will ‘clear up’ on its own within a week or so, however some people need a little boost to their immune systems.
If you fall into one of the categories below, most GP’s will recommend having a flu vaccination every year.
• People aged 65 and Over
• Pregnant Women
• Children and Adults with weakened immune systems
• Children and Adults with underlying health conditions
Unfortunately, the flu can lead to serious complications such as pneumonia, so getting protected is worthwhile.
The basic Flu Vaccine is available for free on the NHS every year to specific risk groups. These generally include:
• Adults aged over 65
• Adults over 18 and at risk of fl
• Pregnant Women
• Children aged six months to two years at risk of flu
If you don’t fall into one of these categories, then a flu vaccination will most likely not be beneficial to you. However, the only person who can give an accurate medical evaluation of your situation is a trained Doctor.
How Does the Flu Vaccination Work?
The flu jab is injected into the upper arm, it’s designed to ‘stimulate’ the body’s immune system to naturally produce antibodies to attack any flu virus which enter the system.
Antibodies will recognise and ‘fight’ infections that have invaded your blood.
It’s important you get the flu jab before any ‘seasonal outbreaks’ of the flu occur, as it can take around 10 to 14 days for your immunity to build up.
If your ‘at-risk’ of developing the flu, then you will need the injection every year. This is because the strains of flu change each year.
The injection you will receive typically contains three different types of flu. These are two types of A and one of B. These strains have been grown in chicken eggs, the viruses are then killed and purified before being made into the vaccine.
This means because the strains are killed (deactivated) the injection isn’t a ‘live’ strain, it’s an ‘inactive’ strain, so you won’t catch the flu from the jab itself.
When to have the Flu Jab?
In most cases the recommended time for the flu jab is around October to November. Nevertheless, don’t worry if you’ve missed this period, you can get the flu jab at any time of the year. Please call your GP or pharmacist.
Believe it or not, the flu isn’t only a ‘winter virus’, it’s true it affects most people during this period, however you can get it any time throughout the year.
Where to get the Flu Jab?
If you’ve been recommended by your Doctor for the Flu Jab there’s a number of places you can get it. Generally, most flu injections will be conducted at your GP Surgery, however there can be other locations such as a local pharmacy or a midwife (if pregnant).
If you’ve decided to have the flu vaccine at a local pharmacy, you don’t normally have to inform your Doctor, the pharmacist will do that as part of the process.
Local pharmacies can offer the flu jab to adults aged 65 and over, pregnant women and people with long-term health conditions. In most cases pharmacies cannot offer the flu jab to babies and children.
Flu Nasal Spray Vaccine
Typically, the NHS will use a Flu Nasal Spray vaccination to babies and children.
The flu nasal spray is great for this age group, it’s quick, painless and doesn’t involve an injection. The vaccine itself absorbs quickly and it has been given to millions of children throughout the world.
Flu Vaccine Side Effects
Just like most forms of vaccinations, there can be some mild side effects. Most people will have no side effects at all, however some people may feel a slight fever and muscle ‘ache’ for a day or two afterwards.
If your arm feels sore after the flu jab, it’s generally recommended to take a painkiller. Please read all medicine leaflets before using, remember pregnant women shouldn’t take ibuprofen and do not give aspirin to children under 16.
Very rarely, a more ‘serve’ reaction may occur, this tends to be allergic reactions to the vaccination ingredients. Medically this is called anaphylaxis, however as stated it’s very rare.
If this were to occur it usually happens ‘within minutes’ of having the vaccine, all healthcare workers are trained to deal with this allergic reaction. With swift treatment, a complete recovery will be made.
Remember if you’ve had the flu jab and you feel unwell or your symptoms are getting worse, please contact your local GP or NHS 111.
Do you Catch Flu from the Flu Vaccination?
It’s a common ‘myth’ that you can catch flu from a flu jab, in some countries they do use ‘live’ strains of flu when vaccinating people. However, in the UK, the NHS use an ‘inactive’ strain of the virus.
Sometimes people do get the flu after the vaccine, however this is generally just ‘bad timing’ and they may have already had the flu before the jab takes effect.
How Effective is the Flu Vaccine?
It goes without saying that no vaccination is 100% guaranteed to be completely effective. However, with that being said, studies have highlighted the flu jab does generally work for most people and does protect against catching the virus.
If you’re ‘unlucky’ enough to have the flu jab and still get a flu infection, it’s likely to be a mild virus and will be shorter lived than a standard version.
Most GPs will state that the flu vaccination is recommended as the best form of protection for people who are pregnant, young, elderly or have underlying health conditions.
Unfortunately, a ‘bad strain’ of the flu can be a horrible illness and in some cases, can even lead to death among ‘at-risk’ groups. Of course, the effectiveness of the vaccine will decline as the flu strain naturally changes. That’s why a yearly injection is offered to people who need it.
Please remember this page is for use as a ‘general guide’ only. You should always trust your own instincts and seek professional medical advice and treatment from a Doctor.
The internet cannot diagnosis anybody, as everyone’s individual situations are different. We cannot be held liable or responsible under any circumstances. For more information on the Flu Vaccine, please call your local Doctor’s surgery for guidance.