Flu causes misery to people every year, but you can reduce your chances of catching flu this winter through having a flu jab. With reports saying that flu jab uptake was low last year, now is a good time to get a flu jab and help prevent a UK flu crisis. Getting your flu jab is more important than you realise, and could save yourself and many others from contracting flu this winter.
The UK flu crisis
The Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, has warned about the low uptake of the flu jab this year, causing concern that there will be a UK flu crisis this year as a result of higher infection levels.
Part of the reason for the low take up is that last year’s jab failed in a high number of cases, leading to the worst rate of winter deaths in 42 years. However, health officials have continued to stress the importance of getting a flu jab, explaining that this year’s jab will be far more effective.
Last year, the NHS had what is considered to be the worst winter crisis on record. However, there are fears it could be matched this year, with hospitals already having to put emergency measures in place to cope with rising demand for beds. In recent weeks, there have been growing flu pressures on intensive care units, which is seeing hospitals struggling to cope. The number of flu cases seen by GPs has also grown by more than double this month.
The importance of getting your flu jab
The flu jab provides effective protection against flu, particularly for those who are considered vulnerable such as young children, older people, pregnant women and those with existing illnesses. By getting a flu jab, you’re not only protecting yourself, but others around you too.
The flu vaccine is available for free to a number of people, who are encouraged to book an appointment with their GP or visit their pharmacist as soon as possible. For those who don’t qualify for free flu vaccinations, there are several places local to you where you can get the jab privately. Many supermarkets are offering the vaccine from £7, while your local pharmacist can also provide you with the vaccine. It’s a small price to pay to protect yourself and others from the spread of flu.
If you suspect that you have flu, you should assess the severity of your symptoms to see if you can treat them at home. If you’re normally in good health, you should be able to treat flu symptoms by taking over the counter medication, as well as drinking plenty of fluids. The NHS advises you to call 111 if:
- you’re worried about the symptoms displayed by your baby or child
- you’re 65 or over
- you’re pregnant
- you have a long-term medical condition – for example, diabetes or a heart, lung, kidney or neurological disease
- you have a weakened immune system – for example, because of chemotherapy or HIV
- your symptoms do not improve after 7 days
They will advise whether you need to book an appointment with your GP or direct you to the nearest treatment centre or hospital if required. Avoid going to places where you might spread the flu and keep your home disinfected to help stop flu in its tracks. Out of hours services can help you where necessary and will help make sure you get the treatment you need. Avoid getting the flu by getting yourself a flu jab so that you can stay healthy this winter.