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Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Why You Should Have a Flu Jab

or most people, flu is unpleasant. However, it can be much more serious for others who are more susceptible to the effects of seasonal flu. For them it can increase the risk of developing more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia, or can make existing conditions worse. In the worst cases, seasonal flu can result in a stay in hospital, or even death. Flu symptoms hit you suddenly and can be severe. They can include fever, chills, headaches and aching muscles, usually with a cough and a sore throat.

·         The best way to avoid getting seasonal flu is to have the flu jab.
·         Last year 602 people in the UK died after contracting flu, including 34 people in Wales.
·         Seasonal flu is a highly infectious virus, often much worse than a cold.
·         Because seasonal flu is a virus it cannot be treated by antibiotics.
·         Seasonal Flu can leave a fit and healthy person feeling very poorly and may lead to more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia, which may need hospital treatment. 
·         For people who have a serious illness, seasonal flu can be severe. It can make the existing illness worse, and can even result in a stay in hospital or death.
·         The vaccination is safe and effective and provides 70 – 80% protection against the flu strains in the vaccine.
·         The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has reported no serious new side effects despite more than 5 million doses of H1N1 flu vaccinations being given in the UK.
·         The World Health Organisation continuously monitors changes in flu viruses across the world. Last year H1N1 was the most prevalent virus and caused over 500 deaths in the UK. Each year they recommend the strains of flu to be included in the vaccine for the forthcoming winter. This year it is H1N1 and H3N2.
·         The seasonal flu jab does not usually cause side effects. Sometimes, it can cause mild fever and slight muscle aches for a day or so.
·         Allergic reactions to the vaccine are rare.
·         Immunisation cannot cause flu, as there is no active virus in a flu vaccine. However, people sometimes catch other flu-like viruses, or very occasionally catch flu before the vaccine takes effect. Other people get a slight temperature and aching muscles for a couple of days afterwards and their arm may feel a bit sore where they were injected;
·         About a week to 10 days after you have had the flu injection, your body starts making antibodies to the virus in the vaccine. Antibodies are proteins that recognise and fight off germs that have invaded your blood, such as viruses. They help protect you against any similar viruses you then come into contact with;
·         If you fall into one of the groups below it is very important you have your seasonal flu jab as soon as possible:  
·         The flu jab will protect you for about a year.
i)        65 years old or over;
ii)      under 65 and have a long-term medical problem such as:
(a)    stroke,
(b)   asthma,
(c)    emphysema,
(d)   diabetes,
(e)    heart disease,
(f)    kidney disease or liver disease;
iii)    pregnant; 
iv)    immunosuppressed or living with someone who is;
v)      in long-stay residential care;
vi)    carers.

o       Pregnant women can and should have the flu vaccination at any stage of their pregnancy. Having the vaccine protects their baby from flu over the first few months of life.
o       People who are aged 65 or over, even if they are healthy, are more at risk from complications should they get seasonal flu
o       The seasonal flu vaccine is made with different types of flu virus, which are grown in hens' eggs. They are then inactivated (killed) and purified before being made into the vaccine.
o       The flu virus changes every year, so you need to have a flu jab annually to make sure that you are protected against the latest strain of the virus. The viruses that cause flu change every year, which means the flu (and the vaccine) this winter will be different from last winter's.
o       The best time to receive the flu jab is in the autumn, before the winter flu epidemic begins.

If you are ill with a fever, do not have your flu jab until you have recovered.
You should not have the flu vaccine if you have had a previous allergic reaction to a flu vaccine (rare).
You should not have the flu vaccine if you have a serious allergy to hens’ eggs (very rare), because the vaccine is prepared in hens’ eggs.

From: Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board

Originally posted on Wednesday 9th November 2011-11-09

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