Flu (also known as influenza) is a highly infectious illness caused by the flu virus. It spreads rapidly through small droplets coughed or sneezed into the air by an infected person. For most people, flu is unpleasant but not serious. You will usually recover within a week.
Studies have shown that flu vaccines provide effective protection against the flu, although protection may not be complete and may vary between people. Protection from the vaccine gradually decreases and flu strains change over time. Therefore, new vaccines are made each year and people at risk of flu are encouraged to be vaccinated every year.
Should I get the vaccine
Should I get the Flu Vaccination?
For most people, flu is unpleasant but not serious. You will usually recover within a week.
are living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility (not including prisons, young offender institutions or university halls of residence)
are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill
are a frontline health or social care worker (see below)
If you are the parent of a child who is over six months old and has a long-term condition on the list below, speak to your GP about the flu vaccine. Your child’s condition may get worse if they catch flu.
It is recommended that all pregnant women should have the flu vaccine, whatever stage of pregnancy they’re in.
This is because there is good evidence that pregnant women have an increased risk of developing complications if they get flu, particularly from the H1N1 strain.
Studies have shown that the flu vaccine can be safely and effectively given during any trimester of pregnancy. The vaccine does not carry risks for either the mother or baby. In fact, studies have shown that mothers who have had the vaccine while pregnant pass some protection to their babies, which lasts for the first few months of their lives.
It will also be offered to children aged 2-18 with long-term health conditions like diabetes, heart disease and lung disease.
Children aged six months to 2 years with long-term health conditions aren’t able to have the nasal spray and will get the injected flu vaccine instead.
Who should not have the flu vaccination?
You should not have the flu vaccine if you have ever had an allergic reaction to a flu vaccine or one of its ingredients. This happens very rarely.
If you have had a confirmed very serious (anaphylactic) reaction to egg, have an egg allergy with uncontrolled asthma or another type of allergy to egg, your GP may decide that you should be vaccinated with an egg-free vaccine. One such vaccine is available for this flu season (called Preflucel, manufactured by Baxter Healthcare).
If no egg-free vaccine is available, your GP will identify a suitable vaccine with a low egg (ovalbumin) content.
Depending on the severity of your egg allergy, your GP may decide to refer you to a specialist for vaccination in hospital.
If you are ill with a fever, do not have your flu jab until you have recovered.
Is this year’s vaccine safe?
Is this year’s vaccine safe?
Although no medical procedure is totally free of risk, flu vaccines are generally very safe. The most common reaction to the jab is a sore arm, or you may feel hot for a day or two after the vaccination.
The Department of Health recommends that everyone who is eligible for a flu jab should have it as soon as the vaccine is available.
If you are in an at-risk group and do not have the jab, you will have a greater risk of developing serious complications or even dying if you get flu this winter.
If you haven’t had the flu vaccine and you are in a risk group, make an appointment to get vaccinated.