October is fast approaching and the nights are drawing in. While many people may be relishing the opportunity to get cosy around the fireplace, this time of year may can spell trouble. Certain people may be at risk of coming down with the flu. Fortunately, getting a flu jab can ward off the health dangers. Speaking to Express.co.uk, Dr Diana Gall of Doctor4U provides some essential advice so people can make an informed decision.
As Dr Gall explained: “For healthy people, the flu is usually an unpleasant illness that will put them under the weather for about a week or two before the body clears the virus on its own.
“Though a flu can feel very much like a common cold with symptoms like a runny nose, headaches, and a sore throat, the flu has the potential to be much more serious.
Who is at risk?
According to Dr Gall, vulnerable groups such as the elderly, children, pregnant women, and those with certain underlying health conditions are at a higher risk of developing complications from the flu such as bronchitis and pneumonia so should ensure they are vaccinated.
Because the flu is contagious, people who are around vulnerable groups often, such as hospice workers, should get vaccinated, said Dr Gall.
Flu vaccines are free through the NHS for those in vulnerable groups, Dr Gall noted.
When is the best time of year?
As Dr Gall explained: “A flu vaccine works by causing the body to develop antibodies against the most common influenza viruses.
“These antibodies develop within two weeks, so it’s best to get your jab in October or November, just as flu season begins.”
“But do not worry if you have missed it, as you can have the vaccine later in winter,” said the NHS.
It added: “Ask a GP or pharmacist.”
Are there any side effects?
According to the NHS, serious side effects of the injected flu vaccine are very rare.
Side effects of the nasal spray vaccine may commonly include a runny or blocked nose, a headache, tiredness and some loss of appetite, it said.
People may experience swelling or soreness where the shot was given, aches, and a low fever, explained Dr Gall.
Although, as Dr Gall pointed out, the effects are minimal compared to having the flu.
It is not exactly clear how effective the flu vaccine is, however, according to Dr Nicole Red, Clinical Fellow at Bupa UK.
“This is because each year there are different dominant strains or ‘types’ of flu, so the vaccine changes each year to try to match this,” she explained.
While it doesn’t guarantee full protection against the flu, it will reduce a person’s risk of getting ill.
“Having the flu vaccine each year will give you the best chance of protection,” explained Red.
Want to know much a flu jab costs and where to get it? Click here.