The Public Health team at Northamptonshire County Council is urging people to get their flu vaccines booked in as winter approaches, but why does this affect me?
Flu is a highly infectious viral illness which can lead to complications, hospital admissions and even death. The infectious nature of the illness means that flu is easily spread in communities, families and workplaces. Symptoms of flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, body aches and tiredness.
No-one wants to get the flu, aside from the symptoms, it can mean time off work, getting behind with everyday tasks, and being isolated from the things that usually keep us busy and improve our wellbeing.
The flu vaccine is the most effective way to reduce the occurrence of illness and the unplanned hospital admissions that inevitably follow, particularly in those with long term health conditions.
Many of us live with long term conditions which may be well managed most of the time and we may not consider ourselves to be in an “at-risk” group. For example, those with asthma that require an inhaler or tablet steroid treatment, or have had a hospital admission due to asthma in the past, those with diabetes and those with a BMI of 40 or more are all classed as being more at risk than those in the general population. For a thorough understanding of who is in an “at-risk group” and should receive a FREE flu vaccine, visit the NHS Flu page.
The flu vaccine is very much misunderstood and we want to counter a few of the myths around the flu vaccine, so take a look at our myth-busting tips:
1. “The flu jab gives you flu” – Wrong! Your arm may feel a bit sore, and some people get a slight temperature and aching muscles for a couple of days afterwards but other reactions are very rare.
2. “I had the flu jab last year so I’ll be fine” – Wrong! The viruses that cause flu can change every year, so you need a vaccination that matches the new viruses each year. The vaccine provides protection for the duration of that year’s flu season.
3. “I’m pregnant so I shouldn’t have the flu jab” – Wrong! You should have the vaccine no matter what stage of pregnancy you’re at. You could get very ill if you get flu, which could also be bad for your baby. Having the vaccine can also protect your baby against flu after they’re born and during the early months of life.
4. “Flu is already affecting people around me, it’s too late to get the flu jab” – Wrong! The flu vaccine should be available up until Christmas and it’s not too late to go and get vaccinated.
5. “It’s ok, if I get flu, I’ll just get some antibiotics” – Wrong! Flu is caused by viruses, whereas antibiotics only work against bacteria.
A large proportion of the population are not in an “at-risk” group, but many of those people will live or work with someone who is. A vaccination will help to protect both you and those around you.
Last year in Kettering a family lost one of their young twins to flu, it’s a difficult piece to read but you can find out about Ned’s Story here.
The flu jab is FREE to anyone in an at-risk group. You can get a FREE vaccine at your GP or a local pharmacy. If you work in the health or care sector, the vaccine may be provided in your workplace free of charge. If you are not in an “at-risk” group, you can still get a vaccine at a pharmacy for a small fee.
Do you work with or live with someone in an at-risk group? Talk to them about the Flu.
Get the vaccine, not the flu.
Public Health Northamptonshire is a Directorate within Northamptonshire County Council. Since 1 April 2013, Local Authorities have been responsible for improving the health of their local population with national public health functions overseen by Public Health England. The team commissions services with the aim of giving every child the best start in life, encouraging people to take responsibility for their health and make the best choices, promoting independence and quality of life for older residents and creating an environment for all the flourish. They also have a delivery team that you may see out and about in the community.