It’s important to remember that flu is a highly infectious disease with symptoms that come on very quickly. It’s not just a heavy cold. Colds are much less serious and usually start gradually with a stuffy or runny nose and a sore throat. A bad bout of flu can be much worse than a heavy cold.
Common symptoms of flu are fever, chills, headache, aches and pains in the joints and muscles, and extreme tiredness. Healthy individuals usually recover within two to seven days, but for some, the disease can lead to hospitalisation, permanent disability or even death.
This is why the NHS is calling on individuals with a long-term condition or who are at increased risk from flu to have their free vaccination as soon as possible. It is best to have your flu vaccination in the autumn or early winter before flu rates increase. Flu vaccines help protect against the main types of flu virus circulating.
So, who is most at risk of suffering severe symptoms of flu?
The list of people who are recommended to have the flu vaccine is broad. It includes individuals with any long-term health condition or as follows:
- everyone aged 65 years and over
- everyone under 65 years of age who has a medical condition, including children and babies over six months of age
- all pregnant women, at any stage of pregnancy
- all children aged 2 and 3 years (provided they were aged 2 or 3 years on 31 August before flu vaccinations starts in the autumn)
- all children in primary school
- some secondary school-aged children (Years 7 to 11)
- everyone living in a residential or nursing home
- everyone who receives a carer’s allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person
- all those living with someone who has lowered immunity due to disease or treatment
- all frontline health and social care workers.
Check NHS.UK for information on whether you are eligible.
Are you a frontline health and social care worker?
If you are a frontline health or social care worker, find out what arrangements have been made at your workplace for providing flu vaccination as these vaccinations are not available on the NHS and will have to be paid for by your employer. It’s important that you get protected. Some social care workers who cannot get the vaccine through an occupational health scheme can get the vaccine through the NHS from their GP or a pharmacy.
Further advice about the flu jab
If you have any questions or need further advice and information about having the flu vaccination, speak to your GP, practice nurse, pharmacist or school immunisation team.