Flu season runs from October to May, with most cases happening from late December to early March. It’s better to have the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available, however, if that’s not been possible it’s always worth getting vaccinated after this, even if there have already been outbreaks of flu.
It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against influenza virus infection to develop in the body. The vaccine makes it so that if and when you come in contact with one or more of the viruses that cause the flu, you’re less likely to develop the symptoms.
It is recommended that influenza vaccine be offered free to the following eligible GP patient groups:
- you’re aged 65 or over
- you're pregnant
- you have a serious medical condition
- you live in a residential or nursing home
- you're the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill
- your child is in an at-risk group and is aged 6 months to 2 years
Cold weather can be seriously bad for your health. That’s why it is important to look after yourself, especially during the winter. If you start to feel unwell, even if it's a cough or a cold, don't wait until it gets more serious. Flu is very infectious and spread by germs from coughs and sneezes, which can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours. To reduce the risk of spreading flu:
- use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze
- bin used tissues as quickly as possible
- wash your hands often with warm water and soap
People who aren't eligible for a flu jab on the NHS can pay for a flu vaccination privately. The flu vaccine may be available from pharmacies or in supermarkets. It is provided on a private patient basis and you have to pay. The vaccine costs up to £20.
Don’t delay, seek advice today!