Influenza or ‘Flu’ is a word that can fill even the healthiest of us with dread.
Flu is characterised by the sudden onset of fever, chills, headache, muscle pain, and extreme fatigue. Other common symptoms include diarrhoea and vomiting, a dry cough, sore throat, and runny or stuffy nose. For otherwise healthy adults, influenza is an unpleasant but usually self-limiting disease with recovery typically within 2 to 7 days. Symptoms in children can last up to 2 weeks. See below for a link to advice on managing flu symptoms.
For some of us with certain health conditions it poses an even greater risk, with complications such pneumonia and higher rates of hospitalisation. For this reason the NHS provides flu vaccination to certain ‘at risk’ groups.
You could be eligible for free flu vaccination if you fall into one of the following categories:
- Chronic respiratory disease, such as severe asthma (not mild) or COPD/chronic bronchitis
- Chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- Chronic kidney disease at stage three, four or five
- Chronic liver disease
- Chronic neurological disease, such as a stroke, TIA, motor neurone disease, MS or learning disability
- Asplenia or splenic dysfunction including sickle cell anaemia
- A weakened immune system due to disease (such as HIV/AIDS) or treatment (such as cancer treatment/ immunosuppressant’s)
You could also be eligible if you are a carer or a household contact of someone who is immunosuppressed e.g. on cancer treatment. Children aged 2-7 and those aged 65 or over are also eligible.
If you are not eligible you can still seek flu immunisation privately, this can cost as little as £5 via some pharmacies.
Studies have shown that the flu jab definitely works and will help prevent you getting the flu. However, it won’t stop all flu viruses, so it’s not a 100% guarantee that you’ll be flu-free. The vaccine works by stimulating your body’s immune system to make antibodies that attack the flu virus. If you catch the flu virus after you’ve had the vaccination, your immune system will recognise it and immediately produce antibodies to fight it.
You need the injection each year so it’s important to book your vaccination as soon as you get your text. Patients known to be in eligible groups should have received their first text inviting them to book an appointment. If you think you are eligible but have not received a text then please call the office at the Students’ Health Service on 0117 3302720.
Below is a link to the 2016 information booklet on flu vaccination-