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What we have to say about your health and well being
Nov 2015
Have Your Flu Jab
You may be eligible for a free vaccination if you’re 65 or older, if you’re pregnant, if you have a serious medical condition, if you’re very overweight or if you live in a residential or nursing home. If you’re the main carer for an elderly of disabled person whose welfare may be affected if you catch flu, or if you have a child aged between six months and two years who’s in an at-risk group, your GP may also offer you a free NHS flu jab. One of the reasons certain groups of people qualify for free flu jabs is because they have a higher risk of developing complications if they catch flu, such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Vaccinating people who live in residential and nursing homes also helps to prevent the spread of flu among the residents and staff. We are able to give all frontline NHS healthcare staff a FREE flu vaccination as we want to protect them and all their patients and clients they come into contact with. But what about everyone else? Even if you don’t have a high risk of developing complications of flu, the symptoms – including a fever, aches and pains, headache, tiredness, weakness and a dry, chesty cough –can by themselves be quite unpleasant. According to the NHS, flu can make you feel so exhausted and unwell that you have to stay in bed and rest until you feel better. Indeed, if you work, there’s a good chance you’ll need to take time off sick if you have flu as you may feel too weak to even get out of bed. Every year, people miss days of work because of flu. According to Unison, minor illnesses such as flu accounted for 27.4 million lost working days in the UK in 2013, with a survey by the Co-operative Group suggesting that flu accounts for the most number of work days lost among short-term illnesses. If, on the other hand, you’re unlucky enough to catch flu over the Christmas and New Year period, it would almost certainly be a holiday you’d rather forget. Treating flu The flu virus is spread by infected people coughing and sneezing. The symptoms can come on much more quickly than those of a cold, and tend to be more severe and longer lasting. As well as the most common symptoms such as a high temperature and aching muscles, you may also experience diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting or abdominal pain, as well as some of the symptoms associated with the common cold such as a runny or blocked nose, sneezing or a sore throat. If you do catch flu, you shouldn’t have to see your GP as the symptoms can usually be treated at home. Here’s what you should do: Rest as much as possible Keep yourself warm Drink plenty of water Stay off work or school until you feel better If needed, take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower a temperature and relieve aches Only see your GP if your symptoms last longer than a week or if they get worse Protecting yourself One way to help prevent flu from spoiling your winter is to get a private flu jab. Available at our pharmacy right now, flu jabs may cost less than you may think for patient who want it privately and are not entitled to the free NHS Flu jab it is just £10 pounds (and arguably worth every penny if they prevent you catching flu, apart from the suffering could you afford to be off work for a week or two at arguably the busiest time of the year?). Private flu jabs are available if you’re aged 18 or older , and in many cases you may not even need an appointment. They’re available from now right up until February, but it’s a good idea to have one as soon as the vaccines become available. That’s because it can take two to three weeks before the vaccine can significantly reduce your chances of catching flu. After having your flu jab, it’s likely that you won’t experience any side effects whatsoever. Some people, however, have a few general aches and pains and may feel tired for a day or two afterwards, with some also finding their arm is a bit sore where the injection was given. If you have any concerns about side effects, your local pharmacist is the best person to offer you advice on how to treat them. Meanwhile, one of the reasons you may not be able to have a flu jab –private or free – is if you have a viral infection with a fever (you may, however, have the vaccination when you have recovered). It’s also fine to have the flu jab if you’re taking antibiotics. But people who are allergic to eggs may not be suitable, as some flu jabs are made using eggs. The best thing is to pop in for advice on your individual situation.
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