It’s not too late to have your flu jab !
Pop in and chat to your pharmacist today - No appointment needed.
Available today at Regent Pharmacy, 19 Windmill Street, Gravesend, Kent DA12 1AS Tel: (01474) 534771
What is flu?
Flu is an acute respiratory, viral infection caused by an influenza virus which normally affects people in the UK between October and April. It can affect anyone and is highly contagious. It can be spread by affected people sneezing, or coughing, or when they touch something like a door handle or food.
How do you know if you have flu rather than the common cold?
Colds and flu can be difficult to tell apart as they have some of the same symptoms such as a cough and/or sore throat, but they are caused by different viruses. Flu can be much more serious than a cold.
There are around 200 viruses that cause colds and just three that cause flu. There are many strains of these flu viruses, and the vaccine changes every year to protect against the most common ones.
Flu is often recognizable by general aches and pains with feelings of exhaustion and weakness as well as shivering, coughing, sneezing and fever. It can be unpleasant but if you are healthy it will normally resolve itself within a week.
Colds cause more nasal problems, such as blocked nose, than flu Symptoms develop over one or two days and gradually get better after a few days. Some colds can last for up to two weeks.
Symptoms of a cold include:
- runny nose–beginning with clear mucus that develops into thicker, green mucus as the cold progresses
- blocked nose
- sore throat
People with a cold may also suffer with a mild fever, earache, tiredness and headache.
Flu usually comes on much more quickly than a cold, and symptoms include:
- sudden fever of 38-40C (100-104F)
- muscle aches and pains
- feeling exhausted and needing to lie down
- a dry, chesty cough
- headache or abdominal or chest pain
How to avoid colds and flu.
Prevention is better than cure. Both colds and flu are highly contagious. They are spread by droplets that are coughed or sneezed out by an infected person. Other people can breathe in these droplets or transfer the droplets to their eyes or nose, via their fingers, which can also leave droplets on surfaces such as door handles or taps. To avoid spreading the virus you should:
- cough or sneeze into a tissue
- throw away used tissues as soon as possible
- wash your hands as soon as possible and regularly
- have a flu jab every year if you're in an at-risk group
- avoid touching your eyes and nose
Who should consider having a flu vaccination?
There is a Flu vaccination available every year on the NHS to help protect adults and children at risk of flu and its complications
Although not everyone is at risk of serious complications from flu, everyone will feel it’s effects and most will feel ill enough to have to have time off from their normal routine which they may not be able to afford. For some people catching flu can lead to complications resulting in much more serious conditions like bronchitis or pneumonia. When you are deciding whether to have the vaccination also consider the other members of your household and close family who could be vulnerable if you caught the flu.
The benefits of the flu vaccination are:
- prevent the symptoms of flu which can be unpleasant.
- avoid missing days off work or being prevented from studying or enjoying yourself at planned events in the winter.
- you won’t pass flu on to other people you are close to in your household and family, some of whom may be vulnerable.
Who is most vulnerable from complications of flu?
Those most at risk of developing further serious complications such as pneumonia if they catch flu are:
- those over 65 years old.
- pregnant women.
- children and adults with an underlying health condition (particularly long-term heart or respiratory disease.)
- children and adults with weakened immune systems.
It is recommended that these groups have a flu vaccine every year to protect them.
If I have the vaccination how many years cover does it give me?
There are many strains of the flu virus so the vaccine changes every year to combat that year’s version. It is therefore almost impossible to get lifelong immunity, or cover for a number of years. Every year a new vaccination is issued so to ensure protection from flu an annual vaccination is required.
Do I have to pay for the vaccination?
The injected flu vaccine is offered free on the NHS annually to:
- adults who will be aged 65 or over on March 31 2017
- adults with long term helath conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart failure.
- pregnant women
- children aged six months to two years at risk of flu
- those caring for others who are considered vulnerable.
You can have the flu jab at a community pharmacy without consultation with your GP. The pharmacist will answer all your questions and inform your GP for you. Children need to attend the GP practice.
Does the flu vaccination work?
It is the best protection we have against this unpredictable virus. Studies have shown that it does work and will help prevent you getting the flu. It won't stop all flu viruses and the level of protection may vary between people, so it's not a 100% guarantee that you'll be flu-free, but if you do get flu after vaccination it's likely to be milder and shorter-lived than it would otherwise have been.
Over time, protection from the injected flu vaccine gradually decreases and flu strains often change. New flu vaccines are produced each year which is why people are advised to have the flu jab every year too.
Are there any side effects of the vaccine?
Serious side effects are very rare. Some people get a slight temperature and aching muscles for a couple of days after having the jab. Most likely your arm will be a bit sore where you were injected. Just move it around normally and take a painkiller such as paracetamol or ibuprofen for one or two days. Serious allergic reactions are extremely rare.
Note the flu jab cannot cause flu because there are no active viruses in the vaccine. If you have what you think is flu following your vaccination either you may have caught flu before you had your injection or you have a flu-like virus, but not flu.
What is the Flu Vaccination Service?
The Flu Vaccination Service is the provision of a flu vaccine, administered by dearPHARMACIST, to help prevent you catching flu. It is suitable for most adults. If you are interested in receiving the service, dearPHARMACIST will take you through a short series of questions to ensure that it is suitable before giving the vaccination.
Pop in store or contact dearPHARMACIST to get your flu vaccination.
Book now! Tel: 01474 534 771
Remember you can always visit dearPHARMACIST at Regent Pharmacy, 19 Windmill Street, Gravesend, Kent DA12 1AS. Come and meet dearPHARMACIST today.
NHS Choices. Vaccinations- the flu jab. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/pages/flu-influenza-vaccine.aspx