What is Flu?
Flu (or influenza, to use the full name) is a highly infectious illness which spreads very rapidly through coughs and sneezes of people who are already carrying the virus. Flu immunisation (flu jab) gives you good protection from flu and lasts for one year. The vaccine is normally available in the autumn and is made from the strain of flu that is expected in the coming winter. In order to remain protected, you need to ensure that you have a flu jab every year.
Flu symptoms hit you suddenly and severely. They usually include fever, chills, headaches and aching muscles, and you can often get a cough and sore throat at the same time. Colds are less severe, and usually start gradually when you get a sore throat and stuffy or runny nose. Flu is a much more serious illness. Catching flu is a nasty experience for most of us. However, for some people it can lead to serious illnesses like bronchitis and pneumonia and may require hospital treatment. Every winter, a large number of elderly people die from influenza. A flu jabs main purpose is to protect those who are most at risk of developing complications that can result from flu.
When should I get the Flu Jab?
The best time to have a flu jab is in the autumn, between late September and early November. Don’t wait until the winter when there’s a flu epidemic. The virus circulates every winter, usually over a period of a few weeks and, as a result, a lot of people get ill around the same time. In a really bad year, this can amount to an epidemic, but it’s impossible to predict how much flu there will be every year.