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Protect yourself and your loved ones from Flu says Sue Cassin, Chief Nurse at NHS Rotherham CCG

Protect yourself and your loved ones from Flu says Sue Cassin, Chief Nurse at NHS Rotherham CCG
19 November 2019

As it starts to get colder and we edge closer to winter, it’s time to remember to get your flu jab. Flu is a highly infectious illness that spreads rapidly through the coughs and sneezes of people who are carrying the virus. A bout of flu is more serious and can be much worse than a heavy cold. Symptoms of flu include fever, chills, extreme tiredness, headaches, aches and pains in the joints and muscles.

When you’ve had flu you normally return to your usual health within two to seven days and will not need to be treated by a doctor, there is no medication they can give you and going to see your GP can spread the virus to other people.

The most important message now is that you need to protect yourself and the people you look after from being very ill from flu and this means having the flu jab. I’m booked in for mine – it only takes a matter of minutes.

The best time to have your flu vaccine is from the beginning of October to the end of November however you can have it later if you miss this window. The flu vaccine is still the best protection we have against this virus, which can cause unpleasant illness plus severe side effects.

Anyone can get flu, but it can be more serious for certain people such as:

  • people aged 65 or over
  • Aged 6 to 65 year olds who have a long-term medical condition; such as diabetes, asthma, heart, liver or kidney disease, weakened immune system and chronic neurological disorders
  • pregnant women 
  • Children aged 2-9 years

The flu vaccine for children is a nasal spray.

To help prevent the development of serious complications from flu the flu vaccine is FREE from your GP if you’re in one of these groups.

You should also have the flu vaccine if you are:

  • The main carer for an elderly or disabled person
  • You work in a frontline health & social care environment
  • You live in a long stay care facility

 It is important that you have a flu vaccine every year, because the flu virus is very variable and changes over time. Each year there are different strains around, and a new vaccine is developed to deal with them. If you are not in one of the ‘at risk’ groups you can get a flu vaccine from some pharmacies. It will cost around £10-£15. 

Winter is the busiest period of the year for the NHS, and Flu can put extra pressure on our health services, so remember the three ways to stop Flu this winter are:

  1. Get your vaccination
  2. Wash your hands - you can help reduce the spread of flu by regularly washing your hands, particularly after sneezing or coughing.
  3. Stay away - if you have flu, stay away from work until you are better to prevent you passing it on to others.

For more information about the flu vaccine talk to your GP, Practice Nurse or Pharmacist.