Posted by Dr Nishel Patel on 30th Sept 2018
Autumn has arrived, should I get the flu jab?
Having worked in the NHS for over 18 years I have been asked this question on countless occasions. In reality, the answer is always yes, in the generic sense, however it takes some explanation and personal advice to assess your individual risk.
At the moment flu is topical in the news. The outbreak in Australia and New Zealand has led to many fatalities, unfortunately young children have also been affected. The concern in the recent days has been whether this “horror flu “strain will make its way to the shores of the UK. You may well remember the Swine flu scare a few years ago. The NHS responded magnificently to this and called in at risk groups for a second jab. Subsequent flu jabs over the coming years have all been modified to include the various risky strains. So, whilst we can’t be guaranteed this year’s flu jab is going to protect us fully against the Antipodean strain, we should take comfort in the vast amount of research and clinical excellence that goes into producing our yearly injection.
Flu can be unpleasant, but if you are otherwise healthy it will usually clear up on its own within a week.
However, flu can be more severe in certain people, such as:
- anyone aged 65 and over
- pregnant women
- children and adults with an underlying health condition (such as long-term heart or respiratory disease)
- children and adults with weakened immune systems
Anyone in these risk groups is more likely to develop potentially serious complication, so it’s recommended that they have a flu vaccine every year to protect them.
The injected flu vaccine is offered free on the NHS annually to:
- adults over the age of 18 at risk of flu (including everyone aged 65 and over)
- pregnant women
- children aged six months to two years at risk of flu
There is also a nasal spray available for the younger children and also slightly older little ones in at risk groups. All the information can be found on the NHS website, which is a great source of information without having to bother your local surgery.
Now the next most popular question… Does the flu jab give you the flu? Simple answer, no, it simply cannot as it’s a vaccine that does not contain any live viruses. It may give you a headache, mild fever and muscle ache for a couple of days but that’s all.
So if you are in the at risk groups then the recommendation is that you should attend your surgery for your jab. Private flu jabs for those who do not fulfil the criteria are available for about £15.
Dr Nishel Patel is an experienced local General Practitioner and the Senior Partner at the Denham and Aysgarth Medical Centre. He also has a Private Medical and Cosmetic Practice in the heart of Gerrards Cross. For your medical and cosmetic concerns please visit him at www.skinesse.co.uk