It is important to have your free flu vaccination if you are eligible
The flu virus strikes in winter and can be far more serious than you think. The virus is extremely infectious and can lead to serious complications.
What is flu? Isn’t it just a heavy cold? How will I know I’ve got it?
Flu occurs every year, usually in the winter, which is why it’s sometimes called seasonal flu. It’s a highly infectious disease with symptoms that come on very quickly. Colds are much less serious and usually start gradually with a stuffy or runny nose and a sore throat. A bad bout of flu can be much worse than a heavy cold.
The most common symptoms of flu are fever, chills, headache, aches and pains in the joints and muscles, and extreme tiredness. Healthy individuals usually recover within two to seven days, but for some the disease can lead to hospitalisation, permanent disability or even death.
How do you catch flu and can I avoid it?
When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they spread the flu virus in tiny droplets of saliva over a wide area. These droplets can then be breathed in by other people or they can be picked up by touching surfaces where the droplets have landed.
You can prevent the spread of the virus by covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and you can wash your hands frequently or use hand gels to reduce the risk of picking up the virus. But the best way to avoid catching and spreading flu is by having the vaccination before the flu season starts.
This year more vaccines are being made available to help protect people and their loved ones from flu. Free flu vaccinations will be offered to all people who are on the NHS shielded patients list, as well as every person who lives with them. Free vaccinations are also being rolled out for the first time for all Year 7 pupils and “at risk” under-twos. This is in addition to the free flu jab that is available every year for:
- pregnant women
- children aged two to three
- primary school children
- people with long term health conditions
- front line health or social care workers.
People in all these groups, or their carers, are encouraged to get in touch with their GP or community pharmacist to find out when their free jab will be available and save their spot in a flu clinic.
Dr Mohit Mandiratta, a GP working in the Black Country, explains the importance of receiving your flu jab this year in the video below:
Watch the video below to see what to expect when you receive your flu vaccination.
Protecting pregnant women against flu
Emma McCartney from Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust gives a midwife's view on why vaccination is important for pregnant women, and Sally Roberts, Chief Nurse for the Black Country and West Birmingham CCGs issues a call to action. Watch the video below to hear from Emma.
Protecting people with learning disabilities against flu
The video below shows how easily a person with a learning disability can have the flu vaccination.
Amanda Manley, a Practice Nurse working in Wolverhampton, explains the importance of healthcare staff receiving the flu vaccination in the video below.
For adults and children not entitled to free flu vaccinations, please visit your local pharmacist for further information.
For more information on the flu vaccine, please see the resources below:
- Stay Well Leaflet
- Flu vaccination - who needs it and why - booklet
- Flu vaccination leaflet - why am I being asked to wait to have my flu vaccination?
- 5 reasons to vaccinate your child - poster
- Flu - easy read poster
- Protecting child against flu - leaflet
- EasyRead version for people with learning disabilities
- The national Winter information leaflet is now available in a range of accessible formats including British Sign Language
Further information can be found at www.nhs.uk/staywell