Flu Season is almost here...
Influenza (commonly referred to as 'flu') is a respiratory illness that's associated with infection by influenza virus. The symptoms of infection commonly include: a headache, fever, cough, sore throat and myalgia (aching muscles and joints).
For many of us, a bout of the flu will leave us feeling miserable and unwell for a few days; however it can result in a severe, life threatening illness for certain people who are ‘at risk’, including the elderly and those with certain medical conditions.
The earliest occurrence of seasonal influenza varies from year to year; but most often it occurs during the winter months - usually beginning in October or November, and peaking between December and March.
Australia and New Zealand this July/August (which is when they experience winter) saw a huge increase in flu this year - around DOUBLE the number of cases when compared to the previous 5 years. And we're being advised that what happens there is typically a good indicator of what we can expect in the UK and Ireland.
The Flu Vaccine
The Flu Vaccine is the best protection that we have against an unpredictable virus that can cause unpleasant illness in children and severe illness and death among at-risk groups, including older people, pregnant women and those with an underlying medical health condition.
Studies have shown that the flu jab will help prevent you getting the flu. It won't stop all flu viruses (there are lots of different 'strains' of the flu virus about) and the level of protection may vary, so it's not a 100% guarantee that you'll be flu-free, but if you do get flu after vaccination it's likely to be milder and shorter-lived than it would otherwise have been.
Over time, protection from the injected flu vaccine gradually decreases and flu strains often change. So new flu vaccines are produced each year which is why people advised to have the flu jab need it every year too.
After the vaccination, it takes between 14-21 days for it to become fully effective against each strain of the virus, so it is sensible to organise your vaccination as early as possible.
Are you eligible for free Flu vaccination on the NHS?
Those defined as ‘at risk’ are eligible and encouraged to receive the flu vaccination free of charge on the NHS through their local GP practice. Furthermore, this year the flu vaccination is being offered to all children born between 2 July 2005 and 1 September 2014.
At risk groups include:
- Pregnant women in all stages/any trimester of pregnancy;
- Anyone aged over 65 years, even if they feel fit and healthy at the moment;
- Children and adults who have any of the following medical conditions:
- - a chronic chest condition such as asthma,
- - a chronic heart condition,
- - chronic liver disease,
- - chronic kidney disease,
- - diabetes,
- - lowered immunity due to disease or treatment such as steroids or cancer therapy (people living in the same house as someone with lowered immunity may also need to be vaccinated),
- - a chronic neurological condition such as stroke, multiple sclerosis or a condition that affects your nervous system, such as cerebral palsy, or hereditary and degenerative diseases of the central nervous system or muscles o any other serious medical condition - check with your doctor if you are unsure,
- Children who have previously been admitted to hospital with a chest infection,
- Children attending schools for children with severe learning difficulties,
- Anyone living in a residential or nursing home,
- Main carers for elderly or disabled people If you are not eligible for free flu vaccination but you, or your employer would like you to receive vaccination.
If you're in any doubt about whether or not you're eligible speak to your local healthcare professional - which includes the pharmacy team in your local Gordons Chemists - to find out more.
Flu Vaccine available in your local pharmacy
Gordons Chemists have trained pharmacists who are able to administer Flu Vaccines for the upcoming flu season (starting October 2017). This can be administered in one of our pharmacies, or on other business premises for group staff vaccinations.
The benefits of having a flu vaccination are to help you stay on top of your health during the winter months and to help prevent the spread of infection among your family, friends and work colleagues.
Even if you had a flu vaccination last year, you may consider having it again this year to protect yourself against the new strains of flu virus contained in the vaccinations.
We will be able to offer flu vaccinations if you are 12 years of age or older, although you may not be able to receive a vaccination if any of the following issues arise:
- You feel unwell, have a high temperature, or an infection
- You are allergic to either eggs or chicken
- You have had an allergic reaction to a previous injection
- You have any other allergies
What will the service cost?
Please let your local pharmacy know your requirements. Price will depend on numbers for vaccination.
What happens at the appointment for flu vaccination?
Our pharmacist will go through a questionnaire with you to see if the vaccination is suitable for you. We will be able to forward copies of the questionnaire prior to the appoint to save you time.
Benefits to businesses of employee vaccination schemes
By providing a Flu vaccination service for staff, you can reduce sickness absence, increase employee satisfaction and potentially increase productivity. Benefits to bottom line include reduced overtime payments, reduced temporary recruitment costs, increased revenue. If employees feel the company are considering their wellbeing it may also improve staff turnover and enhance the company’s reputation. Companies considering vaccinating their staff will need to assess the need (absenteeism due to flu, who would be eligible etc).
Make it YOUR business to fight flu this winter!