More information about the Flu Vaccine:
Influenza, more commonly known as flu, is a highly infectious illness caused by the flu virus.
Flu outbreaks often occur during the winter each year, which is why the illness is sometimes referred to as seasonal flu.
The virus spreads rapidly through small, contaminated droplets that are coughed or sneezed into the air by an infected person.
Unlike a cold, the symptoms of flu come on very quickly and include a fever and aching joints and muscles.
Although flu can be unpleasant, if you are otherwise healthy, the illness will usually clear up on its own and you will recover within a week.
However, the effects of flu can be more severe in certain groups, such as older people, pregnant women and people with an underlying health condition (particularly chronic heart or respiratory disease), or those with weakened immune systems.
Therefore, to protect against the potentially harmful effects of flu, it is recommended that these at-risk groups are vaccinated each year with the flu vaccine.
The flu vaccine:
Studies have shown that having a flu jab provides effective protection against the flu. However, protection may not always be complete, and the level of protection may vary between individuals.
Over time, protection from the flu vaccine gradually decreases and flu strains often change. As a result, new vaccines are produced each year and people who are at risk of flu are encouraged to be vaccinated every year.
If you are at risk, it is very important that you have an annual flu vaccine to protect you against potential serious complications of the flu, such as pneumonia (a lung infection) if you were to catch the illness.
Serious side effects of the flu vaccine are very rare. You may have a slight temperature and aching muscles for a couple of days after having the flu jab, and your arm may be a bit sore where you were injected.
The best time to have a flu vaccine is in the autumn, from September to early November, before any flu outbreaks occur.
Do not wait until a flu outbreak occurs – contact your GP or practice nurse now to arrange your flu jab.
When to have a flu jab
The best time to have a flu vaccine is in the autumn, from the beginning of October to early November, but don't worry if you've missed it, you can have the vaccine later in winter if there are stocks left.
The flu jab for 2014/15
Each year, the viruses that are most likely to cause flu are identified in advance and vaccines are made to match them as closely as possible. The vaccines are recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The 2014/15 vaccine protects against three types of flu virus. This year’s flu jab protects against:
- H1N1 – the strain of flu that caused the swine flu pandemic in 2009
- H3N2 – a strain of flu that can infect birds and mammals and was active in 2011
- B/Massachusetts/2 – a strain of flu that was active in 2012
Is there anyone who shouldn't have the flu jab?
Most adults can have the injected flu vaccine, but you should avoid it if you have had a serious allergic reaction to a flu jab in the past.
Read more about who shouldn't have the flu vaccine.
You can find out more by reading the answers to the most common questions that people have about the flu vaccine
Read more about who shouldn't have the flu vaccine. (content By NHS Choices) You can also find out more about the flu vaccine by reading the NHS Choices frequently asked questions