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"Get your flu jab"

Published: 25/10/2017

Have you had your flu jab yet?

You are being urged to protect yourself against the flu virus.

The advice follows the launch of the NHS England and Public Health England national ‘Stay Well This Winter’ campaign to encourage the flu vaccination and a healthy lifestyle throughout the winter months.

People who are known to be particularly vulnerable include pregnant women, over 65s, young children, and individuals with long term conditions such as COPD, diabetes or asthma.

Dr Elizabeth Fellows, Chair and Clinical Executive at NHS Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “Flu is a particularly unpleasant illness - the best way for people to protect themselves is to have the flu vaccination.

“For most healthy people, having the flu will be worse than a heavy cold meaning they may need to spend a few days in bed. But people in more vulnerable groups may have weakened immune systems so the risk of flu related complications is higher, so it is recommended that they have a flu vaccination every year.

“Flu is a highly infectious disease and strains continue to change, this is why a new vaccination is needed every year to ensure we are as protected as possible.”

The flu vaccination is offered free to anyone in a high risk group and their close carers, it is also available to purchase for others.

Flu myths (source: NHS Choices)

1: "The flu vaccine gives you flu"

No, it doesn't. The injected flu vaccine given to adults contains inactivated flu viruses, so it can't give you flu.

Your arm may feel a bit sore where you were injected, and some people get a slight temperature and aching muscles for a couple of days afterwards. Other reactions are very rare.

2: "Flu can be treated with antibiotics"

No, it can't. Flu is caused by viruses – antibiotics only work against bacteria.

3: "Once you've had the flu vaccine, you're protected for life"

No, you aren't. The viruses that cause flu can change every year, so you need a vaccination that matches the new viruses each year. The vaccine usually provides protection for the duration of that year's flu season.

4: "I'm pregnant, so I shouldn't have the flu jab because it will affect my baby"

You should have the vaccine no matter what stage of pregnancy you're in. If you're pregnant, you could get very ill if you get flu, which could also be bad for your baby.

Having the jab can also protect your baby against flu after they're born and during the early months of life.

5: "Children can't have the flu vaccine"

Yes, they can! The nasal spray flu vaccine is recommended on the NHS for all healthy two- and three-year-olds – plus children in reception class, and school years one, two, three and four.

In addition, children "at risk" of serious illness if they catch flu are eligible for a flu vaccine on the NHS. This includes children with a pre-existing illness, such as a respiratory or neurological condition, and children who are having treatment that weakens their immune system, such as chemotherapy.

The flu vaccine is generally given as an injection to children aged six months to two years and as a nasal spray to children aged 2 to 17 years who have a long-term health condition.

The flu vaccine isn't suitable for babies under the age of six months.

6: "I've had the flu already this autumn, so I don't need the vaccination this year"

You do need it if you're in one of the "at risk" groups. As flu is caused by several viruses, the immunity you naturally developed will only protect you against one of them – you could go on to catch another strain, so it's recommended you have the jab even if you've recently had flu. Also, what you thought was flu could have been something else.

7: "If I miss having the flu jab in October, it's too late to have it later in the year"

No, it's not too late. It's better to have the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available, usually in October, but it's always worth getting vaccinated after this, even if there have already been outbreaks of flu.

8: "Vitamin C can prevent flu"

No, it can't. Many people think that taking daily vitamin C supplements will stop them getting flu, but there's no evidence to prove this.

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