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Winter Flu Warnings – Get The Jab? PDF Print Email

Warnings are appearing that this winter the flu virus could become a serious problem for thousands of people and increase pressure on an already under-strain NHS towards breaking point.

The warnings are based on the winters just experienced in Australia and New Zealand which can give a reasonable indication of what we can expect in the UK during our winter season.  The southern hemisphere have had their worst flu season for many years after, like here, having relatively low levels of flu spreading for the past few years.

The NHS has said this year has been different for them, with double the average flu cases already with some of the season remaining.

 

The NHS went through the worst winter it had seen for a generation last year and with bed shortages and long waiting times already hospitals are warning things could get worse, particularly for vunerable people such as the elderly.

There is no guarantee this winter flu will be severe across the UK and this current strain is no particularly special just more prevalent.  There are always a few strains around but one normally becomes far more common although not necessarily the same one as the southern hemisphere.

 

Should you get the flu jab?

 

Early signs are encouraging and it appears the vaccine available this year is pretty effective against this strain, unlike last year where it was less effective among the elderly.

 

If you are aged over 65, pregnant or have certain long-term conditions such as heart problems, stroke etc. you can get the flu jab free on the NHS.  Also healthcare workers or children 6 months to three years old at risk such as asthmatics can also get it free – a nasal spray is available free to some children.

You can get the jab from your doctors surgery or most local pharmacies.

 

Even if you are not eligible for a free jab you can protect yourself against flu by paying for the jab from your local pharmacy, usually for about £10 - £15.  It’s quick and doesn’t hurt.

 

Even if you had the jab last year strains change and protection decreases so you should get one every year, particularly if in one of the vulnerable groups.

High-risk groups, such older people, pregnant women and those who have long-term medical conditions or a weakened immune system, are at risk of complications.

The most common of which are chest infections.

 

Symptoms of flu include a high temperature, tiredness, weakness, general aches and pains and a dry, chesty cough.