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Keep yourself and your loved ones safe—get the flu jab

31 October 2019

Keep yourself and your loved ones safe—get vaccinated for flu every year, as the flu is a different strain every year. Being vaccinated is the responsible way to protect yourself and those you care about.

Keep yourself and your loved ones safe—get vaccinated for flu every year, as the flu is a different strain every year. Being vaccinated is the responsible way to protect yourself and those you care about.

There are many who are entitled to free vaccination through their GP or local pharmacy and we strongly recommend that they take up this offer. These include those who: 

  • are 65 years of age or over 
  • are pregnant 
  • have certain medical conditions 
  • are living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility 
  • receive a carer's allowance, or you are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill 

Research clearly shows that pregnant women who are vaccinated are protecting not only themselves but also their baby for several months after birth. Young children and, in particular, those who are under 6 months are extremely vulnerable.

Vaccination goes hand in hand with preventative measures. We all need to wash our hands regularly and, whenever possible, restrict our contact with anyone we know to be sick. If you are sick, stay at home and avoid spreading germs at work and school.

Flu facts

Flu kills

For the majority of the population, flu is an unpleasant few days off work. However, there are vulnerable people for whom it can be serious—even life-threatening. This includes the very old, the very young, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems, heart problems or long term conditions. Globally, seasonal flu accounts for 3–5 million cases of severe illness annually and between 250,000 and 500,000 deaths.

The flu vaccine is safe

Flu is very infectious, so protect those around you who are vulnerable by being vaccinated. The flu vaccine is safe—it is not a live vaccine so will not give you flu. A very small number of people experience side-effects such as aching muscles, but this is simply the immune system responding to the vaccine. For the most part, seasonal flu vaccine side-effects are mild or non-existent. The most common side-effect is soreness around the site of the injection and, occasionally, aching muscles. These symptoms are a lot less debilitating than having flu.

The risk of having a serious (anaphylactic) reaction to the seasonal flu vaccine is less than one in a million—much lower than the risk of getting seriously ill from having the flu itself. If you have had a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to a flu vaccine before, please talk to a clinician before getting vaccinated. If you have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to hens’ eggs, you should enquire about vaccines with a very low egg content and be vaccinated under clinical supervision.

Seasonal flu vaccine is given to millions of people in the UK each year. The specific strains of flu that are included may change from one year to the next but vaccines are still thoroughly tested and are safe.

Health professionals need to protect patients

As a health professional, vaccination isn’t just about keeping yourself safe—it’s about protecting your colleagues, your family and your patients. You can carry and pass on the virus to others without having any symptoms yourself, so even if you consider yourself healthy, you might be risking the lives of others.

Healthy diets won’t prevent flu

Your diet could well be helping to boost your immune system, but eating well will not protect you from flu. The best way to protect yourself, your family and patients against flu is by getting the flu vaccination.

Hand washing is very important, but it won’t stop flu

It is vital to follow universal infection prevention procedures and wash your hands, but once flu has been passed on to your family, colleagues or patients, clean hands won’t keep flu at bay. Have your flu vaccination as soon as possible, and encourage those around you to do the same.

Anyone can get the flu

One of the most common reasons for not getting vaccinated is I’ve never had flu before. There’s no such thing as natural immunity to influenza—with new strains circulating this year, it’s best to get vaccinated against flu.

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