Stay Well This Winter - Flu

Cold weather can be seriously bad for your health. That's why it's important to look after yourself, especially during the winter.

As we get older, changes to our bodies mean that cold weather and winter bugs affect us more than they used to. But what’s changed and why does it mean were more likely to get sick over winter.

Colds, flu and pneumonia are all more common in winter. Last year over 60% of cases of flu that needed hospital treatment were in people over 65. So it’s a good idea for us all to use the MECC approach and encourage people who are more at risk to take up the flu jab and undertake simple actions to lower the risk of catching flu.

Flu vaccination is available every year on the NHS to help protect adults and children at risk of flu and its complications.  Flu can be unpleasant, but if you're otherwise healthy, it'll usually clear up on its own within a week.

Very Brief Intervention

Ask

Do you know that a free flu jab is available on the NHS to people who are at risk?

This flu jab is to help protect people against catching flu and developing serious complications

Have you been offered a free NHS flu jab before? Do you normally take up this offering?

You might be fighting fit now but a flu jab can protect you and your loved ones from catching the flu?

Do you have any concerns or worries about taking up a free flu jab? There are many myths about the flu, some people believe the flu vaccine causes you to have flu.

It is impossible to get flu from the flu vaccine because the adult vaccine doesn’t contain live viruses.

While it is true that a small number of people can experience side effects such as headache or muscle pain, in this small number of cases this is the body’s immunity recognising the vaccine and creating a reaction.

Although these symptoms can be uncomfortable, they will usually disappear within a few days after the injection, and most people do not feel much more than an achy arm

Did you know that Flu is not simply a bad cold and it can increase your risk of more serious illness?

A seasonal flu jab will help protect you at the time of the year when you are most vulnerable.  People aged 65 and over are at a greater risk of having serious complications from the flu compared with younger, healthy adults.

These complications could include developing bronchitis or pneumonia. Catching flu can also make some existing conditions worse.

Public Health England estimate that around 8,000 people In England die from flu each year.

Do you know why you need to a flu jab each year?State that Flu is a highly infectious disease caused by viruses that are always changing.  The viruses that are most likely to cause flu are identified in advance and the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends which type of flu virus strains to include in the vaccine each year.

Assist

Do you know when you should get the flu jab, would you like some more information on this?

Most doctor’s surgeries and pharmacists start to offer the jab in late September or early October. It takes up to 10 days for the vaccine to take effect so its best to have it as early as possible!

Would you like some information on who is entitled to a free flu jab?

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.

The flu vaccine is routinely given on the NHS to:

  • adults 65 and over
  • people with certain medical conditions (including children in at-risk groups from 6 months of age)
  • pregnant women
  • children aged 2 and 3 on 31 August 2019
  • children in primary school
  • frontline health or social care workers

Would you like some information on where you can go for a free flu jab?

You can have the flu jab at your doctor’s surgery or a local pharmacy offering the service

Act

Self Care

Flu vaccination is available every year on the NHS to help protect adults and children at risk of flu and its complications. Flu can be unpleasant, but if you're otherwise healthy, it'll usually clear up on its own within a week.

But flu can be more severe in certain people, such as:

  • anyone aged 65 and over
  • pregnant women
  • children and adults with an underlying health condition (such as long-term heart or respiratory disease)
  • children and adults with weakened immune systems

Anyone in these risk groups is more likely to develop potentially serious complications of flu, such as pneumonia (a lung infection), so it's recommended that they have a flu vaccine every year to help protect them.

Visit the NHS Choices Website for full information on the flu vaccine and who can is entitled to this and why

What else can I do to protect myself against the flu?

You have probably already heard of Catch it, Bin it, Kill it.  This is still great advice!

During flu season you should get into the habit of washing your hands regularly with soap and warm water, particularly after spending time amongst large groups of people, or having contact with someone who is sick.

You should also keep shared surfaces (such as door handles and telephones) clean, and avoid sharing food, crockery, cutlery, or towels with any people who have the flu.

You can often treat the flu without seeing a GP and should begin to feel better in about a week

Flu symptoms come on very quickly and can include:

  • a sudden fever – a temperature of 38C or above
  • an aching body
  • feeling tired or exhausted
  • a dry cough
  • a sore throat
  • a headache
  • difficulty sleeping
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhoea or tummy pain
  • feeling sick and being sick

The symptoms are similar for children, but they can also get pain in their ear and appear less active.

How to treat flu yourself

To help you get better more quickly:

  • rest and sleep
  • keep warm
  • take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature and treat aches and pains
  • drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration (your pee should be light yellow or clear)

Please note that Antibiotics do not work for viral infections such as colds and flu, and most coughs and sore throats.  In most cases your pharmacist should be the first point of call as they can help advise you on appropriate colds and flu remedies to help manage symptoms such as fever, headache, aches and pains, and fatigue.

National Support and Information Services

Key Websites:

NHS Conditions - Flu https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/flu/

NHS Vaccinations - Flu https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine/