FLU SEASON: PROTECTING YOURSELF AND OTHERS THIS WINTER WITH THE FLU VACCINATION

Please note we are currently not offering flu vaccinations in clinic. 

Every year, the influenza virus causes epidemics of flu throughout the country. If you’ve ever had the flu, you know how awful the symptoms can be. Fevers, body aches, fatigue, a dry cough, headaches, just to name a few. Symptoms can be long-lasting, with many people complaining of long-term fatigue for weeks afterwards. Symptoms also vary in severity depending on the person, with vulnerable people at risk of developing secondary infections, such as pneumonia, who subsequently require hospital treatment. Flu prevention, like getting your annual flu vaccination, is necessary to protect yourself and others this winter.

Unfortunately, this year has the added difficultly of COVID-19 happening at the same time. Despite the uncertainties facing this upcoming flu season, the flu or influenza vaccination is still the most effective way to prevent yourself from becoming sick with the flu.

In 2020, 30 million people in the UK will be offered a free flu vaccination under the NHS. The NHS flu vaccine will be offered to the over 50s, people shielding, people will certain medical conditions, pregnant women, children (up to year 7) and frontline workers. However, it’s recommended that everyone should be protecting themselves and others by getting their flu vaccination this winter.

What are the symptoms of Influenza (flu)?

There are numerous symptoms of the flu. These symptoms can come on very quickly and can be very similar to symptoms of Coronavirus and the Common Cold. Symptoms include:

  • A sudden fever – temperature higher than 38C
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Ear pain (found in children only)

 

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Why should I get the flu vaccination?

Flu season officially starts in December and normally goes on until March. Nevertheless, it is recommended to get the flu vaccine before flu season to ensure you are protected as you enter the winter months. If you’re not in an “at-risk” group you may be wondering why you should get the flu vaccination and why getting a flu vaccination even more important in the face of the current pandemic. Here are some of the reasons why it is essential to protect yourself this winter with the flu vaccination:

You lower the risk of hospitalisations and serious illnesses for vulnerable groups

Some people are a lot more likely to become seriously ill during flu season. The “at-risk” group includes older adults, pregnant women, children and people with underlying physical health conditions. Getting a flu vaccination not only protects you from flu symptoms, it also protects at-risk groups from getting the infection by reducing the spread.

 

The threat of COVID-19 

Unfortunately, a big flu season combined with coronavirus could overwhelm hospitals. Not only getting a flu vaccine will help reduce the risk for everyone, it will also help hospitals ensure they have the capacity to cope with the predicted rise in COVID-19 cases this flu season. Getting a flu jab will also help NHS staff as if hospital and care-home workers are sick with the flu, it may not be possible to respond to COVID-19 in the same way as previously.

 

Reduce the severity of symptoms

Whilst it is still possible to get the flu after receiving the flu vaccination, by having the vaccination you can greatly reduce the severity of your symptoms making it feel much more manageable.

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How does the flu vaccination work?

According to the NHS, the flu vaccine stimulates the body’s immune system to make antibodies attack the flu virus. If you are exposed to the flu virus after you have a had the flu vaccine, your immune system will recognise the virus and produce antibodies to fight it. It takes approximately 10-14 days to build up full immunity to the flu once you have had the vaccine. You need to have the flu vaccination every year as the antibodies that protect you from the flu decline over time. On top of this, flu strains can also change from year to year.

Who needs the flu vaccination?

Simply put, everyone should consider getting the flu vaccination each year unless you have a medical reason not to. Not only does it protect you and your family from developing the flu. It also protects others from series complications, particularly in children, older adults and anyone with certain pre-existing medical conditions.

Why get your flu vaccination at London Doctors Clinic?

The flu vaccination is available at London Doctors Clinic for anyone who is not eligible to receive one through the NHS. Fortunately, it’s never been easier to get your flu vaccination as London Doctors clinic run dedicated flu clinics to protect yourself and others from the unpredictable flu virus.

 

Medically reviewed by: Dr Daniel Fenton, GP and Clinical Director at London Doctors Clinic

Reviewed: September 2020

 

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