Every year the NHS offers free flu vaccines to anyone who might be particularly vulnerable to catching the flu, but did you know that you can also pop down to most local pharmacies and pick one up for around £10, even if you’re not in a vulnerable group?
A lot of people don’t realise that even if they don’t catch the flu themselves, they can still carry it and potentially spread it to other people who may be more susceptible, like the very young or old, pregnant women or people with long–term conditions.
“The safest way to protect yourself and those around you is to make sure you get your vaccine as early as possible,” said GP, Dr Nicola Decker, speaking on behalf of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Partnership of Clinical Commissioning Groups.
“Most people who are eligible for a vaccine can arrange to have their vaccine at their practices by checking on the practice websites or speaking to their reception team. Everyone else can go into any pharmacy and buy the flu vaccination to help protect them from getting flu,” added Dr Decker.
In helping spread the word on the importance of getting protected from the flu, the partnership of CCGs is also providing some myth busters about the flu vaccine. Here are the facts on some of the most common ones:
Getting the flu vaccine can’t give you the flu. Some people may experience some very mild flu-like symptoms afterwards, while others may still be unfortunate enough to pick up a different strain of it, but the best way to protect yourself is to get the jab. It might not be perfect, but it reduces your chances of picking up the flu by 40-60%.
Just because you got the vaccine last year, doesn’t mean you can skip it this year. Flu is a virus that is constantly evolving and the jab is custom designed each year to try and counter the latest strains. Even if you’ve already had flu this year, you should still get the jab.
Whilst some of the symptoms are similar, flu is much worse than a bad cold. Symptoms tend to come on quickly and very severely, leaving you with aching muscles, a headache, exhaustion and fever. If you’re not sure if it’s a cold or flu, it’s probably not flu!
It’s not too late to have the flu vaccine in November, or even December or January. The sooner you can have it the better, but don’t be put off getting it just because it’s later in the winter.
“So remember, if you’re entitled to a free jab, it’s important that you get it. The risk of serious illness from flu, and consequent hospitalisation or death, is higher among those aged 65 and older, and others whose immune systems may be weaker, so don’t put it off. Protect yourself and your loved ones as soon as possible,” said Dr Decker.