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The season of stuffy noses and barking coughs is almost here.

Although the flu is just unpleasant for most, it can be life-threatening for others.

But getting an annual flu jab can protect people from getting seriously ill.

Those over the age of 65 and people with certain long-term health conditions such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease are able to get the jab free on the NHS. It’s also recommended if you are pregnant or a carer.

Here, NHS GP and This Morning resident doctor Dr Sara Kayat, who is working with Boots, busts some common myths surrounding the flu jab.

Dr Sara Kayat, who is currently in her third trimester of pregnancy, is pictured getting her flu jab at Boots. She urges other pregnant women to also get their vaccine this year

You can catch the flu from the vaccine

Some believe that getting the flu jab can actually give you the flu. But doctors say this is categorically not true.

‘Injected flu vaccinations contain a tiny amount of an inactive flu virus that cannot give you the flu,’ says Dr Kayat.

While this makes it impossible to catch influenza from getting jabbed, feeling achy or slightly feverish for up to a few days post-vaccine is a common side effect caused by the immune system reacting to the vaccine.

Severe side effects are extremely rare, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). One in a million people may get Guillain-Barré Syndrome, which causes muscle weakness and paralysis.

However, the flu itself can be severe. Last winter, it is thought to have killed around 14,500 people in England.

But children who were jabbed had a 66 per cent lower chance of being hospitalised, while the over-65s saw their risk reduce by 25 per cent and vulnerable people were a third less likely to need NHS care. 

The flu vaccination will leave you in lots of pain

Like all jabs, the flu vaccine may sting a bit.

But most side effects are only mild and last a day or so.

‘You may feel slightly sore where your jab was injected,’ says Dr Kayat.

Those over the age of 65 and people with certain long-term health conditions such as diabetes, asthma and coronary heart disease are able to get the jab free on the NHS

‘Other side effects include a slightly raised temperature, muscle aches or a headache, but these tend to be mild and only last for a day or so.’

To help ease the pain, the NHS suggests continuing to move your arm regularly and taking a pain killer such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.

I had the vaccination last year, I don’t need it again

Unlike some vaccines which last a lifetime, the flu jab needs to be updated each year.

‘It is recommended to have the flu vaccination annually’, says Dr Kayat.

What is the flu? 

The flu is the name of a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses.

It mainly infects the nose, throat but can sometimes reach the lungs.  

Most cases are mild but it can be deadly.

The flu is mostly spread through tiny droplets made when people with the virus cough, sneeze, or talk.  

Flu vaccines are considered the best protection against the the viruses but can take up to two weeks to work.

People need a flu vaccine every year as the viruses that cause the illness can change. 

Experts formulate the flu vaccines based on global data, in particular looking at the type of influenza viruses are spreading in the parts of the world going through winter.

It then takes about six months to produce sufficient quantities of vaccines.  

Flu symptoms can include: 

a sudden high temperature 
an aching body 
feeling tired or exhausted 
a dry cough 
a sore throat 
a headache
 difficulty sleeping 
loss of appetite 
diarrhoea or tummy pain 
feeling sick and being sick 


‘This is because the flu virus evolves and changes over time, so each year new vaccinations are developed to match the new flu strains. 

‘Also, your protection declines over time.’

Each February, the WHO recommends which influenza strains the vaccines should target and manufacturers make them ready for September that year.

It is still possible to become infected by a strain of flu even after getting the vaccine, because several flu viruses are circulating all the time and no vaccine is 100 per cent effective.

Pregnant women can’t have the vaccination

It’s a myth that pregnant women can’t have the flu jab.

In fact, getting the flu jab will help protect both mother and baby.

‘Pregnant women are eligible to have a flu jab during any stage of pregnancy, from the first few weeks up to your expected due date.

‘I encourage all pregnant women to have their flu jab this autumn’, says Dr Kayat who is currently in her third trimester of pregnancy.

However, according to the UK Health Security Agency, only 35 per cent of expectant mothers got their free flu jab last season (2021-22), compared to 38 per cent the year before (2020-21)

Dr Kayat said: ‘Pregnancy changes how the body responds to infections, which is why pregnant women like me are considered to be at increased risk of serious complications from flu.

‘If you are pregnant, a flu jab helps protect you and some protection will be passed onto your baby too, lasting for the first few months of their lives.’

Those who get jabbed are less likely to both become infected and develop severe illness due to the flu.

Getting infected with the flu while pregnant raises the risk of giving birth prematurely, the baby having a low birth weight and stillbirth, the NHS warns.

Content source – www.soundhealthandlastingwealth.com

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