National Influenza Vaccination Week

This week is National Influenza Vaccination Week which aims to raise awareness and highlight the importance of getting the influenza vaccination.

Why you should get your flu jab?

The influenza vaccination, also known as the flu shot or flu jab, helps to protect people against infection of influenza viruses. Influenza A and B viruses are responsible for seasonal flu epidemics each year.

The flu vaccination is available every year either on the NHS, at a local pharmacy offering the service or through a midwifery service that offers the jab for pregnant women. Flu can cause severe illness and sometimes death, especially among at-risk groups including older people, pregnant women and those with an underlying medical health condition.

People that are in these at-risk groups can develop serious complications of flu, such as bronchitis and pneumonia. With around 17,000 people in the EU dying annually from flu, getting the flu jab should be a high priority for all of us.

Flu vaccine side effects

Side effects of the injected vaccine can be very rare, although some people can feel mild fever and aching muscles afterwards. There may also be a pain in your arm from where the needle was injected.

If you get the nasal spray vaccine, you may experience side effects such as a runny or blocked nose, a headache, tiredness or loss of appetite.

Symptoms of flu:

  • a sudden fever – a temperature of 38c or above
  • an aching body
  • feeling tired or exhausted
  • a dry cough
  • a sore throat
  • a headache
  • difficulty sleeping
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhoea or stomach pain
  • feeling sick and being sick

Cold and flu can be very similar to each other as they are both respiratory illnesses. Although, the two illnesses are caused by different viruses. Flu is generally worse than the common cold as the symptoms can be more intense. Colds are usually milder than the flu that include symptoms of having a runny or stuffy nose.

Treating flu

You can often treat flu without having to go to a GP and you should feel better in about a week. Here are a few ways you can help get better quicker:

  • rest and sleep
  • keep warm
  • take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature and treat aches and pains
  • drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration (your pee should be light yellow or clear)