We are seeing a big drive to ensure as many vulnerable people as possible have the flu vaccine this year. This is understandable, given the ongoing COVID-19 situation and the need to reduce the number of people needing treatment for serious complications of flu.
So what exactly is the flu vaccine, and who should have it? The Chemist Shop in Glinton (where you can go for your free NHS flu vaccine) explains.
For most people, even the nastiest case of flu will clear up in a week or so. The symptoms might be very unpleasant, such as a fever, aches and pains, but it’s something we can take in our stride.
But for many people, a flu virus has the potential to cause very severe illness, complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia, or even death. This is why people in vulnerable groups are encouraged to have the flu vaccine. The flu can’t be treated with antibiotics, so the best strategy is to avoid getting it in the first place.
The two main vulnerable groups being urged to have the vaccine now are as follows:
- People aged 65 years or older. Also, later in the autumn, the vaccine may be given to anyone aged 50-64 who wants it.
- People living in long-stay care. This can mean residential care homes or other long-stay care facilities.
The NHS also identifies two related groups who should have the flu vaccine:
- Carers whom others depend on. People receiving a carer’s allowance, or the main carer of an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill.
- Anyone living with someone at high risk of coronavirus. High risk individuals are on the NHS shielded patient list. Even if you don’t live with them, if you expect to spend most days with them this winter, you are advised to have the vaccine.
In addition, here are some of the illnesses and circumstances that are also identified as putting you in a vulnerable group:
- Chronic heart disease
- Chronic respiratory disease
- Chronic liver disease
- Chronic neurological disease
- Asplenia, or dysfunction of the spleen.
If you’re not eligible for a free vaccine, there is a cost of £11.
How does the flu vaccine work?
The vaccine is usually administered by injection, but for young children it may be in the form of a nasal spray. It works by stimulating your body’s immune system to make antibodies to attack the flu virus. It can take up to two weeks for your immunity to build up fully after you have the vaccine.
A new vaccine needs to be taken each year, as the antibodies that protect you decline over time. Also, flu strains change from one year to the next, so last year’s vaccine may not be suitable for this year’s flu strains.
Having the vaccine can lead to side effects for a couple of days, including headache, fever and muscle aches. However, these should be considered minor compared to the possibly serious implications of getting the flu if you are in one of the vulnerable groups.
Are you entitled to a FREE NHS flu jab?
If you fall into any of the ‘at risk’ groups listed above, please talk to our pharmacy team about having the vaccine. Either come and visit us at 4 Rectory Lane, Glinton, Peterborough, PE6 7LR, or call us on 01733 253433 to make an appointment.
To read more about The Chemist Shop click here or visit their website https://www.thechemistshoppeterborough.co.uk/