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Winter Flu Campaign 2019-2020

Winter Flu Campaign 2019-2020

What is flu?

Influenza or flu is a viral infection that usually strikes between December and March.  It can affect people of all ages.

The first signs are a headache, sore throat and a runny nose, aching muscles, fever and shivering.  Flu makes you feel completely exhausted and this extreme fatigue may last for two to three weeks.

You can catch flu by inhaling the virus or by handling items touched by an infected person.  The symptoms start to develop one to four days later.


Why should I be concerned about flu?

Most people who get the flu recover after a week or two, but some develop life-threatening complications such as pneumonia, nerve or brain damage.  You are more likely to be at risk from the complications of flu if you are in one of the 'at risk' groups and your body is already weakened.


How do I avoid getting flu?

The best way to avoid getting flu is to have a flu jab during the Autumn - usually between October and November - each year.  The Flu vaccination is free of charge for people in the 'at risk' groups. 

You need to have a jab each year to maintain your immunity, as the flu virus is always changing.  The jab will not stop you getting coughs and colds, but can protect you against the latest strains of flu.

You may have a temporary slight soreness at the injection site.  A few people get a slight fever, but this is short-lived.

As the vaccine is made in chickens’ eggs, you should not have a flu jab if you are allergic to eggs, chicken protein or if you have had a previous allergic reaction to a flu jab.  A Flu vaccination does not cause flu.


Flu vaccination is especially important if:

You are aged 65 or older - Death from influenza is most common in the over 65s - you are more likely to have severe flu and be admitted to hospital than younger patients.


You have had a stroke or TIA (mini stroke) - There is evidence that receiving the annual flu vaccine reduces the risk of a stroke in patients with a history of stroke or TIA.


You have reduced immunity - If you are receiving chemotherapy or steroid treatment; have no spleen; or if you have HIV/AIDS, your immune system is already considerably weakened.  Flu will further reduce your capacity to fight infection.


You are the main Carer for an elderly or disabled person - You should receive the flu vaccine if their welfare is at risk if you fall ill.


You have diabetes - The death rate among people with diabetes can increase by between 5% and 15% when there is a lot of flu about.


You have chronic heart disease - People with flu may experience changes or abnormalities in the rhythm of their heartbeat, which indicates there is a problem with the heart muscles. Studies have indicated that people with heart disease are less likely to have a heart attack if they have a flu jab.


You have chronic kidney disease - Flu can cause dehydration which can worsen your kidney problems.


You have chronic liver disease - You may be more susceptible to catching flu and more likely to develop complications or worsening of your liver disease.


You have chronic lung disease - Flu can bring on asthma attacks and will make chronic bronchitis much worse.  If you get flu, a secondary infection like pneumonia can set in.  If you go on to develop pneumonia, the risk of developing further complications would be higher.


You are pregnant - Pregnant women, who have not already received the H1N1 swine flu vaccine, should receive the seasonal flu vaccine.  This is because pregnant women are at increased risk from the H1N1 virus, which is again expected to be predominant in the 2019-2020 influenza season.


If you fall into any of these 'at risk' categories, please contact the Surgery to make an appointment for a Flu Jab.   


If you have any questions not answered here, please ask the Practice Nurse or Doctor.  

Swine Flu

Swine flu is the common name given to a relatively new strain of influenza (flu) that caused a flu pandemic in 2009-2010.

It is also referred to as H1N1 influenza (because it is the H1N1 strain of virus).

From now on, these pages will refer to the illness as H1N1 flu.

Current status

On 10 August 2010, the  World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the H1N1 influenza pandemic was officially over. We have now entered the post-pandemic period.

However, it is important not to ignore H1N1 flu.

The H1N1 flu virus will be one of the main viruses circulating this winter. Therefore, WHO has announced that the H1N1 flu virus will again be included in the 2016-17 seasonal flu vaccine.


It is still recommended that people in high-risk groups continue to be vaccinated with the H1N1 (swine flu) vaccine. This includes all pregnant women.

When the seasonal flu vaccine becomes available in September 2012, all pregnant women, including those who are not in high-risk groups (if they have not previously been vaccinated against swine flu) are advised to take the seasonal flu jab.

This is because there is good evidence that all pregnant women are at increased risk from complications if they catch H1N1 flu. For more information, see Advice for pregnant women.

Until now, only pregnant women in high-risk groups were advised to take the seasonal flu vaccine.

What to do if you have H1N1 flu

People with H1N1 flu typically have a fever or high temperature (over 38C or 100.4F) and may also have aching muscles, sore throat or a dry cough (see Symptoms of swine flu). The symptoms are very similar to other types of seasonal flu. Most people recover within a week, even without special treatment.

If you think you have H1N1 flu, see your GP. They will decide the most appropriate action to take.

The National Pandemic Flu Service no longer operates.

High-risk groups 

Some people are more at risk of complications if they catch flu. People are particularly vulnerable if they have:

  • chronic (long-term) lung disease
  • chronic heart disease
  • chronic kidney disease
  • chronic liver disease
  • chronic neurological disease (neurological disorders include motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease)
  • immunosuppression (whether caused by disease or treatment)
  • diabetes mellitus

Also at risk are:

  • patients who have had drug treatment for asthma in the past three years
  • pregnant women
  • people aged 65 and over
  • children under five

To stop the virus spreading

The most important way to stop flu spreading is to have good respiratory and hand hygiene. This means sneezing into a tissue and quickly putting it in a bin. Wash your hands and work surfaces regularly and thoroughly to kill the virus.

Anyone who is concerned about flu symptoms should contact their GP by phone, who will determine the most appropriate action to take.


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