This year the NHS is determined to deliver a knock-out blow to flu and consign myths about the flu jab to the canvass.
In 2014, we dispensed 5% fewer flu inoculations to our patients nationally – with expectant mums and the vulnerable elderly amongst those who didn’t get protected.
There were some pretty spurious reasons why folk didn’t get inoculated – including confusion about the effectiveness of the jab and fears that it actually gave you flu.
Meanwhile, 28,189 people died of flu in 2015 – the largest percentage increase in year-on-year flu mortality since 1968.
And the fear this autumn is that with the uncharacteristically warm weather even fewer people are going to receive the jab and get protected.
Free flu jabs are available to anyone in what the NHS deem as “high-risk groups” such as the over 65’s. While some surgeries have started to spread the good message about flu jab clinics on the phone or at community meetings, reaching older folks and reminding them to get protected isn’t always easy. If you have a family member or a neighbour that needs the jab, why not encourage them to go down to their local surgery?
For children aged two, three and four years-old plus children in school years one, two and three, a nasal spray is available that is quick and easy to apply. Last year staff at one surgery even dressed up as Disney characters to dispense the jab.
For those with long-term health conditions, the danger of not getting inoculated is that flu can cause serious complications and develop into potentially deadly conditions such as pneumonia, bronchitis or meningitis.
Flu jabs are available at pharmacies, walk-in centres and even some local supermarkets. Even if you aren’t eligible for a free flu jab – carers and healthcare workers are also amongst those who are – getting protected is paramount.
NHS flu jabs offer a defence against the three strains of influenza most prevalent throughout the world including swine flu – and why wouldn’t you want to protect yourself against that?
Don’t allow questionable research or myth put you off. Sure there have been very rare cases where patients have reported a slight temperature and aching muscles a couple of days after the jab. But surely it is better to have very temporary discomfort like this than two weeks in bed with those self-same symptoms only much, much worse?
So, what are you waiting for? Get yourself a jab today because trust me, an injection is better than a heavyweight bout of flu!