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It’s important that you benefit from having the most effective vaccine.

Influenza is most commonly known as the Flu. It is a very contagious virus that infects the nose throat and lungs. Most experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. A person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own eyes, mouth or nose.

People infected with flu virus and may be able to infect others from 1 day before getting sick to about 5-7 days after getting sick. This can be longer in some people, especially children and people with weakened immune systems. This means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.

Flu is an unpredictable virus that can be unpleasant, but if you’re otherwise healthy it’ll usually clear up on its own within a week. It can cause severe illness and even death among vulnerable groups, including older people, pregnant women and people with an underlying health condition.

Herd immunity

Throughout the Covid pandemic the phrase “herd immunity” surfaced and more people than ever have a understanding of this term. Having a vaccine also benefits your whole community through “herd immunity”.

If enough people are vaccinated, it’s harder for the virus to spread. With many immunisations this is hugely beneficial to those people who cannot have vaccines. For example, people who are ill or have a weakened immune system.

People who should have a flu vaccine from their GP

The injected flu vaccine is offered free of charge on the NHS to people who are at risk.

This is to help protect them against catching flu and developing serious complications.

You should have the flu vaccine if you:

  • are 65 years old or over
  • are pregnant
  • have certain medical conditions
  • are living in a long-stay residential care home or another long-stay care facility
  • receive a carer’s allowance, or you’re the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill

Frontline health and social care workers are also eligible to receive the flu vaccine. It’s your employer’s responsibility to arrange and pay for this vaccine.

You may also be able to have the flu vaccine at your GP surgery if you’re a frontline health or social care worker employed by:

  • registered residential care or nursing home
  • registered homecare organisation
  • hospice

If you are one of the vulnerable groups you do not have to do anything to enlist for your free vaccination. Your GP surgery will be in contact to arrange your annual vaccine before September. Flu vaccinations generally run throughout September. If you believe you should be vaccinated but you are not in the vulnerable category you can contact your GP surgery.

Speak to your GP or practice nurse if:

  • you’re worried about you or your child having a vaccine
  • you’re not sure if you or your child can have a vaccine

You could also ask a health visitor any questions you have about vaccines.

Coronavirus update: how to contact your GP

It’s still important to get help from a GP if you need it. To contact your GP surgery:

© East Cornwall Primary Care Network 2020

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