Should you have the flu jab and is it effective?

 In Pharmacy Information, Simplifying Product Supply

Flu vaccines have become an important part of the winter months over the past few decades, providing you with protection against the strands of Flu that are going to be the most prevalent over the next year. The Flu vaccination is available from most healthcare organisations every year to all adults and some children, who wish to be protected from the flu and its complications.

Flu is a horrible illness to get but normally it should clear up within a week, however flu can have more adverse effects on people in high risk categories, such as

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

People in these risk groups are highly recommended to get the flu vaccine as they are more likely to potentially develop serious complications such as pneumonia. The Department of Health recommend that all healthcare workers and also patients in care settings should have the flu vaccine.


Complications of Flu

Complications of flu can make the illness a lot worse, but tend to mostly affect the people in the high risk categories. The flu can even be life threatening to these people and that is why it is highly recommended that people have the flu vaccine. The most likely complications to arise when someone has got the flu are –

Chest infections – This is the most common complication of flu and normally is a bacterial infection such as Bronchitis, but can develop into something more sinister such as pneumonia. Anti-biotics should cure this, however in the elderly this can be life threatening.

Worsening of existing conditions – Flu can aggravate previous conditions and make them worse. Flu can affect lung conditions such as asthma or obstructive pulmonary disease making the symptoms more severe. Also, Flu can affect blood sugar levels and can cause hyperglycaemia in people with type 2 diabetes, or diabetic ketoacidosis in people with type 1 diabetes.

If you have either type of diabetes it is highly recommended you monitor your blood sugar levels more closely if you have the flu.

Pregnancy complications – If you get flu during your pregnancy, there is a small chance it may cause you to go into premature labour, or it may result in your baby having a low birth rate. Very rarely, flu can cause you to have a miscarriage or a still birth.

Rare complications – tonsillitis, ear infection, sinusitis, convulsions, meningitis, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain)


The Flu Vaccine for 2015/2016

The viruses that are most likely to cause the flu vary year on year. Each year the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends which strains of the flu virus the vaccine should protect against.

For 2015/16, WHO has announced that the flu vaccine will protect against the following strains:

  • A/H1N1– the strain of flu that caused the swine flu pandemic in 2009
  • A/H3N2– a strain of flu that can infect birds and mammals and was active in 2011
  • B/Phuket/3073/2013

For more information please visit the NHS website or follow the link below.


How effective is the Flu Jab?

The Flu vaccination is the best recognised and most effective form of protection against the flu virus. Flu can cause severe illness and sometimes death among at risk groups, and the vaccine does pay a pivotal role in preventing this.

Studies have shown that the flu vaccine does work and will help fight against the flu and all its symptoms. However, it won’t stop all strands of the Flu virus and the degree of success of the vaccine is dependent on a person by person case. Therefore the Flu vaccine doesn’t guarantee that you’ll not get the virus, but if you get the flu after having the vaccine, the virus should be milder than it otherwise would have been.

It is important to iterate however, that you should have the vaccine once a year. New strains of the flu virus occur each year so you should update your flu vaccine on an annual basis to maintain its effectiveness.


How can Ashtons help?

Ashtons provides flu vaccines to registered healthcare organisations. We current have two available, a generic option and the Enzira vaccine. Either of these options will vaccinate against the strains identified by WHO by 2015/16.

You can view the flu vaccines we have available by following this link:

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