Every year we hear the same thing, its Flu Season, get your Flu Vaccine, many of us just ignore the warning because we hear it every year and think it is not relevant to us. Many of us believe we are healthy, we never get the Flu, it is slightly worse than the common cold or I am not having the vaccine as that can give you the Flu, but here are the real facts.
FACT – Flu kills
For most people who catch the Flu it is unpleasant, the sudden onset of achy joints, high temperature, feeling exhausted, cough or sore throat. For others it can lead to significant respiratory infections, severe complications, and death. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) indicated that excess deaths in England associated with the Flu infection were higher (14,500) than the average figure (13,500) for the 5 years before the pandemic. Globally Flu caused between 250,000 and 500,000 deaths.
FACT – It is not just a heavy cold
It’s just a heavy cold, I will be fine if I get it, we hear this said all the time. Flu is much worse than the common cold, it can cause the healthiest of people, at least, to be confined to their bed. Healthy people do normally recover within a week but for others it can be more severe.
FACT – The Flu vaccine is the best way to be protected
As a nurse I get asked all the time if the Flu vaccine causes people to get the Flu. The most common reasons I have heard for people not having the vaccine is that it made them or someone they know ill. The Flu Vaccine cannot give you the Flu! The Flu injection does not contain a live virus, so it’s impossible to get the flu from it. A small number of people do get achy joints, soreness around the injection site or a slight temperature after the vaccine but this is the immune system responding to the vaccine and these symptoms are less severe than the actual Flu. The Flu vaccination is very safe.
The Flu vaccine can take between 10-14 days for it to work, if you believe you have had the Flu after having the vaccine, it may be that you caught it (or another virus) before the vaccine had taken effect.
FACT – The Flu can spread quickly and easily
The majority of people with the Flu have no symptoms (77%), that is 7 out of 10 people. They can spread the infection to others who may be more susceptible without even knowing it. The Flu is spread by coughs and sneezes, it can live on surfaces from 24 hours to 48 hours.
FACT – Prevention is key
Wash your hands often – Handwashing has been shown to prevent cold, flu and other respiratory infections spreading by 21%. I am sure we are all aware of how to wash our hands but most of us are less strict with this than we were throughout the pandemic.
Use a Tissue – we have all probably seen the poster with the phrase Catch it, Bin it, Kill it. Always cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, put the tissue in the bin and do not reuse it, always clean your hands as quickly as possible following.
Stay home – If you have a high temperature or do not feel well enough to carry out your normal activities you are advised to limit your contact with others, this will prevent the spread of Flu. We do not know if someone has an underlying health condition which could cause them to become severely ill if they catch the Flu.
Get Vaccinated yearly – The vaccine is given yearly, as the antibodies that protect you from the Flu decline over time and the virus that causes Flu can change. The best time to have a Flu Vaccine is in the Autumn before Flu starts to spread but you can have the Vaccine later.