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The Flu Vaccine, What’s the Big Deal?

The Flu Vaccine, What’s the Big Deal?

We are in the midst of flu season, so you probably keep hearing the words ‘flu jab’. But how effective it is? Who is eligible? How does it work? We’ll be answering all these questions and more in this article.

Did you know, flu kills an average of 8,000 people every year? People over the age of 65, young children, pregnant women and people with underlying health conditions are more likely to develop serious complications of flu, such as pneumonia. If you fall into any of these categories, then you are entitled to the flu jab for free on the NHS at your GP or at your local pharmacy.

What is the flu vaccine?

The flu jab is essentially a training session for the immune system. It contains a very small amount of inactive flu virus particles injected in the upper arm, the vaccine stimulates your body’s immune system and makes antibodies designed to attack the flu virus. Your body will recognise the virus immediately once you’ve had the vaccine and if you’re exposed to the virus, your body will make the antibodies to fight it.

However, because the flu is a virus, it mutates and creates different strains. This is why it’s important to get the jab every year, especially if you are at risk! The best time to have the flu jab is in autumn, from the beginning of October to the end of November.

Does the jab prevent you from getting the flu?

The vaccine provides the best protection from getting the flu, it’s not 100% effective but helps ease symptoms in a shorter period of time. The jab also helps prevent additional illnesses and complications caused by the flu. The flu jab can take up to 2 weeks to become fully effective because your immune system is building in this time.

Will the flu jab give me the flu?

This is a common myth about the flu jab, it does not give you the flu. Some may experience very mild side effects after the vaccination such as general aches and pains, your arm may feel sore after the jab, but these symptoms usually go away within 1-2 days. Other side effects may include nerve pain, fits, and inflammation of the nerves but this is very rare.

Can I get the flu jab if I’m not eligible?

Yes, anyone can get the flu jab, but only individuals in certain categories are entitled to have it for free. Anyone else can pay to have it at a pharmacy, it only costs about £11.50.

It’s important to look after yourself at this time of year, eating well and keeping warm and active will keep the bugs at bay. Check out our Cold and Flu Survival Guide which is packed with helpful information about keeping healthy this season!

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