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Flu At NHS Direct

The Flu At Kids Health

Dr. Eric Baijal, Director of Public Health Medicine has urged patients in the NHS Highland area to make an appointment with their GP practice to have an annual flu vaccination to protect them against the virus during the winter months.

Dr. Baijal said: "Those who are most at risk to the effects of flu are people over 65 and people of any age who have a long-term medical condition. Asthma, diabetes, lung, heart, liver and kidney disease, serious neurological conditions such as stroke and multiple sclerosis are all conditions that mean the patient is more likely to develop a serious illness as a result of catching flu. These people are the 'at risk' group and are therefore entitled to a free vaccination. Because the virus changes, it is essential to have a repeat jab every year.

For the rest of us who are generally in good health, flu is a nasty illness as it is much more severe than the common cold. It is also highly infectious and around 10 to 15% of the UK is affected every year.

I would urge people if they know a family member or a friend who falls into the 'at risk' category to encourage them to get their flu jab now."

  • Winter flu occurs every year in the winter in the UK - usually peaking between December and March.
  • It is highly infectious and spreads rapidly by coughs, sneezes and by touching people who already carry the virus.

Flu symptoms are:

  • High fever
  • Shivery feeling
  • Headache
  • Aching body
  • Extreme tiredness
  • A dry cough, sore throat and stuffy nose are also common with
    flu. It usually lasts about a week but you could feel in low spirits
    for several weeks longer.

It affects 10-15% of the population every year

Flu vaccines give 70-80% protection against infection with flu virus strains that closely match those in the vaccine

Flu vaccine cannot give you flu as it does not contain any live viruses.

Common Myths

  • I've heard that the vaccine can actually cause flu. This is not true. The vaccine does not contain any live virus so it can't cause flu. Some people may experience mild side effects, such as
    a slight temperature and aching muscles for a couple of days and their
    arm may feel a bit sore where they were injected. Any other reactions
    are rare.
  • I've already had the jab so don't need another one. This is inaccurate. Flu viruses change every year so you need a new one every year to protect against the viruses most likely to be circulating in the coming winter.
  • The vaccine doesn't work. The currently available influenza vaccines give 70-80% protection against infection with influenza virus strains closely matching those in the vaccine. It does not protect against other respiratory infections such as the common cold.
  • I hate needles   Most people don't like being laid low by flu.