Flu season is nearly upon us and the best way to protect yourself is to get vaccinated before the end of November.
Vaccines are one of the greatest public health innovations in recent history and no other medical intervention has done more to save lives. The flu vaccine has been proved to reduce the number of deaths and hospital admissions. Studies have shown that the flu jab does work and will help prevent you getting the flu.
It’s not difficult to get a flu jab you can even get one while you’re doing your weekly shop in a supermarket so why are we all so reluctant? Read on to find out the answers
Common myths about the flu vaccine
True or false: Healthy people don’t need the jab
False: It’s true that the flu vaccination is routinely recommended for people who have a chronic illness. But anyone, even healthy people, for example children, can benefit from being vaccinated.
The myth: Flu is just a bad cold, I could fight it off
False: Although some of the symptoms are similar to a cold, if you catch flu, you are likely to feel much worse. You may feel shivery, achy and possibly too weak to get out of bed. Flu can give you head ache, high temperature, dry cough, sore throat, runny nose making you feel ill for many weeks. Many people who have the flu are unable to work or carry on with their daily life as normal. Some people develop very serious complications.
True or false: the flu jab can give you flu?
False: The vaccine is made from an inactivated virus that can’t transmit infection. So people who get sick after receiving a flu vaccination were going to get sick anyway. It takes a week or two to get protection from the vaccine. But people assume that because they got sick after getting the vaccine, the shot caused their illness.
True or false: the flu jab doesn’t work
False: How well the flu vaccine works (or its ability to prevent flu illness) can range widely from season to season. The vaccine’s effectiveness also can vary depending on who is being vaccinated. At least two factors play an important role in determining the likelihood that flu vaccine will protect a person from flu illness: 1) characteristics of the person being vaccinated (such as their age and health), and 2) the similarity or “match” between the flu viruses the flu vaccine is designed to protect against and the flu viruses spreading in the community.
I had a flu jab last year and still got ill
False: Flu vaccination happens at a time of year when lots of other viruses are causing colds and other illnesses and people can mistake these for flu. Flu vaccination cannot prevent the common cold. In addition, it can take your body up to ten days to develop protection from the vaccine so it is possible to catch flu before it has a chance to work.
True or false: All the flu vaccines contain gelatine derived from pigs (porcine gelatine)
False: Only the nasal vaccine for children contains a highly processed form of gelatine (porcine gelatine), which is used in a range of many essential medicines. The gelatine helps to keep the vaccine viruses stable so that the vaccine provides the best protection against flu. The nasal vaccine provides the best protection against flu, particularly in young children. It also reduces the risk to, for example, a baby brother or sister who is too young to be vaccinated, as well as other family members (for example, grandparents) who may be more vulnerable to the complications of flu.
So what do I do? Check here to see if you are in one of the vulnerable groups. There are plenty of places you can get a flu jab free – GPs, pharmacies, schools and supermarkets and, depending on who you are some will be free.
Don’t wait until there is a flu outbreak this winter: get your flu jab now.