We all have such busy lives – drinks with the girls, date night, the launch of that fabulous new club and the work do that may help get a promotion. But there is nothing worse on the morning of the big event than waking up with aching limbs, a pounding head, fever and a runny nose. Flu not only makes you feel awful but can stop you from getting on with your busy life.
It can hit quite suddenly and severely and because flu is caused by a virus and not bacteria, antibiotics won’t treat it.
But a flu vaccination means that you can avoid the worst of the illnesses that will take out your friends and colleagues this winter.
So what are the five things you should know about the flu jab?
1. You have to get one every year
The viruses that cause flu change every year, which means the flu this winter will be different from last winter’s, and the vaccine will be different as well.
The flu vaccination lasts at least six months, so having one before the start of winter maximises your protection.
2. It takes about a week to become effective
About a week to 10 days after you have had the flu injection, your body starts making antibodies to the virus in the vaccine.
3. You can’t have it if you are allergic to eggs
The seasonal flu vaccine contains different types of flu virus, which are grown in hens’ eggs. They are then inactivated (killed) and purified before being made into the vaccine.
4. It doesn’t stop you getting all flus
Flu vaccines currently available give 70-80% protection against infection, with flu virus strains closely matching those in the vaccine.
5. You can’t catch the flu from the flu jab!
The vaccine doesn’t contain any live virus, so it can’t cause flu. Side effects should be expected though. Some people get a slight temperature and aching muscles for a couple of days afterwards, and your arm may feel a bit sore where you were injected, but that’s about all. Any other reactions are very rare.
Flu vaccines are free from your doctor surgery if you’re: • 65 or over, • have a serious heart or chest, complaint, including asthma • have a serious kidney disease • diabetic • are pregnant • have a lowered immunity due to disease or treatment such as steroid medication or cancer treatment.
Alternatively you can get the flu injection from your local pharmacy, as well as certain Bootsand Tesco stores for between £10 and £15 – chicken feed if it means you can avoid the chicken soup this winter!