Flu is an illness caused by the influenza virus and is spread in small droplets of saliva when a person coughs or sneezes. It is most common in winter months, usually from October until April. Symptoms can come on quickly and can be severe. It typically causes a temperature, headache, aching muscles, cough and a sore throat.
Last year the numbers of flu infections were considerably lower than previous years as the lockdown and other COVID controls ( socially distancing, wearing masks) meant it was harder the flu virus to spread. It is really important that those eligible for a flu vaccine have the vaccine as soon as they are invited in.
We are starting to look at our first flu clinics starting with those Patients aged over 65 years old. Our Flu Clinics will be held on the following dates and Patients will need to book an appointment. These will not be walk in clinics. The dates are:
- Mile End Road Surgery – 11th September;
- Tuckswood Surgery – 18th September;
- Gurney Surgery – 25th September
We will be holding other clinics as soon as we have flu vaccine delivery dates confirmed and we will be actively inviting eligible patients in for a vaccine.
In healthy people flu symptoms are unpleasant but resolve by themselves in about a week. However certain groups of people are at risk of developing potentially serious side effects, such as pneumonia. These include older people, pregnant women, people with underlying health problems or weakened immune systems. This is why we have a seasonal flu vaccination programme to help protect not only patients at increased risk but also the wider public by making it harder for the flu virus to spread. The vaccine is offered annually as the viruses that cause flu can change every year, which means the flu (and the vaccine) this winter may be different from last winter.
Those who can obtain a free flu vaccine from the NHS include the following groups;
- all children aged 2 to 15 (but not 16 years or older) on 31 August 2021*;
- those aged 6 months to under 50 years in clinical risk groups;
- pregnant women;
- those aged 50 years and over;
- those in long-stay residential care homes;
- close contacts of immunocompromised individuals;
- frontline health and social care staff employed by:
- a registered residential care or nursing home
- registered domiciliary care provider
- a voluntary managed hospice provider
- Direct Payment (personal budgets) and/or Personal Health Budgets, such as Personal Assistants.
- frontline health or social care workers;
*For school aged children not in a clinical at risk group, the vaccine will be delivered in schools.
Evidence shows that the vaccine is effective and studies have shown that the flu vaccine will help prevent you getting the flu however it won’t stop all flu viruses. If you do get flu after your vaccination it’s likely to be milder and shorter-lived than it would otherwise have been.
There is a common misconception that the flu vaccine can give you the flu. In fact the injected flu vaccine given to adults contains inactivated (or dead flu viruses), so it cannot give you flu. The children’s nasal spray flu vaccine contains live but weakened flu viruses that will not give your child flu. The vaccine works by stimulating your body’s immune system to make antibodies to attack the flu virus. Antibodies are proteins that recognise and fight off germs, such as viruses. That means that if you’re exposed to the flu virus after you’ve had the flu vaccine, your immune system will recognise the virus and immediately produce antibodies to fight it.
It may take 10 to 14 days for your immunity to build up fully after you have had the flu vaccine. To help stop the virus from spreading there are some simple but effective measures that we can all take. These include;
- Washing your hands often with warm water and soap;
- Use tissues to trap germs when you cough and sneeze;
- Bin used tissues as quickly as possible;
- If you are unwell with flu like symptoms (and if possible) stay off work or school, rest, keep warm and drink plenty of water. Take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature and treat aches and pains you may have.
- Keeping distance from others (socially distancing);
- Wearing masks will also help in minimising the spread of the virus.
As flu is a virus, antibiotics will not relieve your symptoms or speed up your recovery. This is why they are not prescribed by our doctors. For more information on the flu or the flu vaccine, please contact the surgery, call NHS 111 or visit: www.nhs.uk/flu