While flu jabs are aimed at vulnerable groups, there are many reasons why everybody should get one. Not only can it help prevent the flu, it also works to prevent illnesses that may arise from the flu, and could even save your life.
My experience with the flu jab
In early October my husband and I both decided to get flu jabs without putting too much thought or faith into whether or not they would actually work. But so far, neither one of us has been sick!
That’s pretty amazing, given that we’ve both lived in the UK for over 10 years and every year around this time we get sick. Flu season is definitely among the top 3 most annoying things about living in a busy city like London.
On the tube, in the shops, in the theatre, the office… Everywhere you go, there are millions of people coughing and sneezing… and spreading contagious airborne viruses.
No matter how hard you try, catching the flu can be unavoidable and unpredictable. Staying healthy through a combination of diet, exercise, hygiene and keeping warm will help, but only the vaccine can offer immunity.
Of course, the flu jab is not a magic cure-all, nor is it 100% effective. It takes about 2 weeks to develop an immunity and even then it is still possible to get sick as flu strains mutate.
However, the vaccine helps protect against and prevent several different strains of flu, as well as more serious illnesses that may develop from it, such as bronchitis and pneumonia.
Even among the healthiest adults and children, any flu infection can carry a risk of serious and dangerous complications. Getting the injection could save your life.
What You Need to Know
Who should get the flu jab?
Everyone! Although the flu jab is offered free of charge on the NHS for the most vulnerable, namely the elderly, the sick, children and pregnant women, that doesn’t mean that everyone else shouldn’t get one.
Where and when can I get the flu jab?
A new flu jab is usually released every year in October, which is the best time to get your flu jab before flu season starts. However, it’s never too late to get vaccinated.
If you’re not eligible for the flu jab on the NHS, you can get yours at most pharmacies for £10-20. Some require an appointment while others offer walk-in services.
How long does it protect you for?
You will need to have the flu vaccination every year because the antibodies that protect you from flu decline over time. In addition, flu strains also change year to year, requiring a new vaccine, with different vaccines developed each year.
What are the possible side effects?
As with any vaccine or pharmaceutical, there are possible side effects, although serious side effects are very rare. The most common ones are soreness, headaches and a mild fever that lasts 1-2 days.
Can it cause flu?
No. One of the biggest concerns and misperceptions about getting the flu jab is the idea that it could cause the flu. This is untrue. The flu vaccine does not contain any live viruses and therefore cannot cause flu.
How does the vaccine work?
It works like any other vaccine, by making us produce antibodies to fight disease without infecting us with that disease. For some infectious diseases, such as measles and smallpox, if everyone was vaccinated the diseases would disappear entirely.
Are vaccines safe?
Yes. Vaccines save countless lives and are one of the top medical science achievements of the 20th century. Not only is the anti-vaccine movement a danger to society, but it also causes a number of otherwise entirely preventable deaths, especially in children, each year.