People are being reminded that it’s still not too late to get their flu vaccination this winter.
The common virus, spread by coughs and sneezes, usually clears up within a week but can cause serious health complications among vulnerable groups of people – and in extreme cases be life-threatening.
The flu vaccination is one of the safest in the world and will not only protect the person receiving it, but also other people around them.
Flu can be particularly horrible for youngsters and they can quickly spread it around the whole family. Healthy children under the age of five are more likely to have to be admitted to hospital with flu than any other age group.
Flu virus is contained within the millions of tiny droplets which come out of the nose and mouth when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets typically spread around a metre but will land on nearby surfaces such as food, door handles, furniture, remote controls, telephone handsets and computer keyboards. They can survive for up to 24 hours.
Anyone who breathes in the droplets, or touches a surface they have landed on and then touches their nose or mouth, can catch the virus.
It is possible to pass on flu without having any symptoms. Spread of the infection can be prevented by washing hands regularly with soap and warm water, cleaning surfaces to kill germs, using tissues to cover the mouth and nose after coughing and sneezing, and then disposing of used tissues as quickly as possible.
The flu vaccine is available for free on the NHS to:
- Anyone over the age of 65
- Pregnant women
- Anyone who is very overweight (a body mass index above 40)
- Children and adults with an underlying health condition (particularly long-term heart or lung disease)
- Children and adults with weakened immune systems
- Those in long-stay residential care homes
An annual flu vaccine nasal spray is also now offered to healthy children aged two and three years old via their GP, and to pupils aged four to eight in schools. This is quick, painless and protects them against the virus without the need for an injection.
Alison Challenger, Director of Public Health at Nottingham City Council, said: “A large number of people still view flu as simply a ‘bad cold’. They are completely unaware of the risks, and potentially serious consequences, of catching it – particularly among vulnerable groups. By having the jab, you are helping to protect not only yourself, but your family, friends and work colleagues too.
“Don’t put off getting your vaccination if you’re eligible – it’s free because you need to have it. Make an appointment to see your GP or pharmacist today.”
More information at the flu vaccination is available at www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine/