I have been asked this question – or one like it – on many occasions, and the answer is usually “yes”. However it takes some investigation and personal advice to assess your personal risk.
‘Flu is currently topical in the news. The outbreak in Australia and New Zealand has led to many fatalities, with young children also having been affected. The concern in the recent days has been whether this “horror ‘flu” strain will make its way to these shores. You may well remember the Swine ‘flu scare a few years ago. The NHS responded magnificently, and called in the at-risk groups for a second jab. Subsequently, ‘flu jabs over recent years have all been modified to include the various risky strains. So, whilst this year’s ‘flu jab cannot be absolutely guaranteed to protect us against the Antipodean strain, we can 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 within a week. However, ‘flu can be more severe for:
• 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 are more likely to develop potentially serious complications, 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:
• 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 younger children, and slightly older little ones in at- risk groups. All the information can be found on the NHS website, a great source of help before needing to visit your local surgery.
Now, the next most popular question: “Does the ‘flu jab give you the ‘flu?” Simple answer: “No, it cannot – it is a vaccine containing no live viruses. It might give you a headache, mild fever and muscle ache for a couple of days – but that is all. So, if you are in one of the at-risk groups I recommend that you attend your surgery for your jab. Private ‘flu jabs for those who do not fulfil the criteria are available for about £15.
To ask a question to Dr Nishel Patel please email him on email@example.com