Boots starts offering their vaccinations this week. This year there is an improved flu vaccine (which also boosts the immune system for older people) and this is the one we are being offered in the UK this coming winter.
This is particularly good news for older people since adults over the age of 65 are more likely to catch flu and develop complications from it.
Older people also tend to have a slower immune system and this is why the enhanced vaccine has been designed to boost the body’s immune response to the vaccine.
Worst flu season for seven years
This ‘adjuvanted’ flu jab comes in response to last year’s large increase in deaths from the influenza virus.
According to Public Health England the number of deaths from flu in 2017 was 15,000 – almost double the national average.
Figures also suggest flu accounted for a staggering 1-in-3 admissions to hospital last winter. It was the UK’s worst flu season for seven years.
Experts hope the ‘adjuvanted’ vaccine has the potential to prevent at least 700 deaths, avoid 2,000 hospital visits and 30,000 GP appointments.
The new vaccine for the over-65’s vaccine protects against 3 main types of flu. Those under 65 who are also in the at-risk groups, will be offered a vaccine against four types of flu.
Who should be vaccinated?
The vaccine will be offered to 24 million people for free, this includes those over 65, sole carers and care workers.
You are entitled to a free flu vaccine if you are under 65 and have one of the following long-term conditions:
- a heart problem
- a chest complaint or breathing difficulties, including bronchitis, emphysema or severe asthma
- kidney disease
- lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (such as steroid medication or cancer treatment)
- liver disease
- had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
- a neurological condition, e.g. multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy or learning disability
- a problem with your spleen, e.g. sickle cell disease, or you have had your spleen removed
- are seriously overweight (BMI of 40 and above).
However anyone can pay for the vaccine and it is a sensible jab to get!
Where to get the vaccine:
Chemists including: Superdrug, Boots, Lloyds Pharmacy, Asda and Tesco.
When to get the vaccine?
The new vaccines will be rolled out in the UK from early September.
Immunity takes a couple of weeks to build up, so it is important to get vaccinated as early as possible and before the beginning of flu season.
However Public Health England stress it is never too late to be vaccinated.
What is flu?
Flu is a highly infectious disease and symptoms usually appear very quickly. It causes fever, chills, headache, aches and pains in the joints and muscles, and extreme tiredness.
Healthy individuals usually recover within two to seven days, but it has the potential to be very serious, in some cases leading to people requiring admission to hospital, permanent disability and even fatality.
What causes flu?
Influenza viruses affecting your respiratory system cause flu, and unlike bacterial infections, viruses cannot be treated with antibiotics. In some cases, however, antibiotics are prescribed if there are additional opportunist bacteria that cause complications and need treating.
How do you catch flu and can I avoid it?
Flu virus is spread liberally in tiny droplets of saliva released when someone infected with the virus coughs or sneezes. These droplets can then be inhaled by others or people are infected by touching surfaces where the droplets have landed. The virus can survive on surfaces for many hours.
In order to prevent the spread of the virus ensure that you cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Avoid touching your face in a public environment such as a bus or train, use hand gels to reduce the risk of picking up the virus while out and wash your hands regularly.
Although, the best way to protect yourself against flu is by having a flu vaccination before flu season commences.
What to do if you suspect you have flu:
There is no need to visit your GP if you are suffering from flu as there is nothing they can do to help you fight it. However, if you develop complications or are seriously worried please phone the surgery and get additional medical advice.
The key advice to recover as quickly as possible is:
Rest and sleep
Take paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat aches and pains as well as lower your temperature.
Drink plenty of water and avoid dehydration (urine should be pale yellow or clear)
Pharmacists can give treatment advice and recommend flu remedies that can help you to feel better.
Written by Emma Hammett for First Aid for Life
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