Flu jab is a vaccine that helps protect people against symptoms of the influenza virus, such as a dry, chesty cough, a headache and a sore throat.
The virus is known for being unpredictable, and can, in severe cases, cause severe illness and even death among vulnerable groups, with complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia.
Every year the flu vaccine is free of charge for certain people, so do you fell under the eligibility?
There are five groups of ‘at risk’ people, according to NHS eligibility.
You are eligible for a free flu jab and advised to have the vaccine if you:
- Are 65 years of age or over
- Are pregnant
- Have certain medical conditions
- Are living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility
- Receive a carer’s allowance, or you are 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 for the flu vaccine, but it is your employer’s responsibility to arrange and pay for the vaccine.
Flu jab is also free on the NHS for children over the age of six months with a long-term health condition, children aged 2 and 3 on August 31 2018, and children in reception class and school years 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.
Children aged between six months and two years are given an injected flu vaccine, whereas children aged between two and 17 are given the flu vaccine nasal spray.
For those that aren’t eligible for a free flu vaccine on the NHS can pay for it privately.
The jab is available from many pharmacies and supermarkets. While prices can vary, it tends to cost up to £20.
The best time to have a flu vaccine is in the autumn, from the beginning of October to end of November.
But if you’ve missed getting the jab during these months you can still have it later on in winter. Your GP or pharmacist will be able to advise you on this.
If you choose not to have the vaccine, Dr Luke James, medical director of UK insurance at Bupa UK, says there is an increased chance you may get flu.
He explains: “The vaccine doesn’t offer guaranteed protection, but it can help reduce your risk.
“There are over-the-counter medicines that can help ease your symptoms, but prevention really is the best plan of attack.
“Other ways to protect yourself from picking up a virus or spreading one is to wash your hands with hot soapy water after using the toilet and before preparing food.
“Cover your mouth if you cough or sneeze and throw any tissues away as soon as you’ve used them.”
For those unfortunate enough to get the virus, Dr Sarah Jarvis has a number of remedies.