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Flu (influenza) is a very common illness that is hilghly infectious and spread by the coughs and sneezes of people who have it, around 15-20% of people in the UK are infected each year and the likelihood of a major outbreak is very difficult to predict.
You do not have to be in direct contact with some one who has flu, you can also pick up flu by touching something like a door handle if someone who has flu has touched it before you.
Flu isn't like a bad cold, you are likely to feel much worse, as well as having a temperature, headache , sore throat and dry cough, you could be shivery, achy and even too weak to get out of bed. Flu can develop into more seriuos illnesses, such as bronchitis and pneumonia, which could lead to a stay in hospital.
You can be protected against flu by having a simple vaccination against it. The flu vaccine gives good protection against flu and lasts for about a year. The strains (types) of flu can change, so a new flu vaccine is produced each year to protect you against the different strains of flu the World Health organization expect to be most common that winter.
The seasonal flu vacine has been well tested, has an excellent safety record and is given to millions of people in the UK and around the world every year. The risks of having a serious reaction to the vaccine is less than one in a million, much lower than the risk of getting seriously ill from having the flu itself.
It is impossible for the flu vaccine to give you flu, as none of the ingredients in the vaccine can cause the flu. Side effects of the vaccine should not make you feel unwell. However, you may feel a temporary soreness where you have been injected. You may have achy muscles and joints, a slightly raised temperature, or headache. These symptoms should go away after a couple of days and are generally a lot less serious than getting flu! If these synptoms go on for longer, or you have any other symptoms that cause you concern you should talk to a doctor or practice nurse.
To protect patients who are most at risk of serious illness or death if they develop flu, the Department of Health recommends flu vaccination every year for everyone in the groups below. We are unable to offer a flu vaccine to patients who are not in one of the at risk groups.
People aged 65 years and over
All patients adged 6 months or over who meet the following conditions:
Chest problems, including certain asthmatics on steroid inhalers or tablets and those with chronic bronchitis or emphysema
Chronic heart disease
Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic Liver Disease
Chronic Neurological Disease
Patients who are immunosuppressed - have no spleen or whose spleen does not work
Those in contact with people who may be at risk of developing serious complications from flu
Patients living in long stay residential care homes
Carers - caring for relatives but not people working as carers, they should receive the vaccine from their employers.
Healthcare professionals - these will be given by occupational health not by gps
Its a fact that flu can be serious, so it pays to be protected.
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