The flu virus can leave you with a fever, feeling too weak to even get out of bed and is highly infectious. With this in mind, it's little wonder you'll want to find out how to protect yourself against the flue.
Whether you're thinking about getting yourself immunised or just want to learn more about how else you can protect yourself, here is some useful information.
Where can I get the flu jab?
You can buy the flu jab at some pharmacies, but you can also get it for free if you’re in an ‘at-risk’ group. Check out our 'Am I at risk of flu complications?' guide for more information on whether or not this applies to you.
If you’re in doubt, book an appointment with your GP, who will advise you accordingly. According to Public Health England, the number of flu cases tends to increase in the winter months. This is known as seasonal flu, and an annual campaign to make people aware that they can get the vaccine usually gets underway in October.
As well as an injection, the vaccine is also available via a nasal spray for children over the age of two.
Are there any side effects to the flu jab?
The NHS says that serious allergic reactions - known as anaphylaxis - are very rare, while there's no guarantee you'll experience any side effects either.
However, it is possible you may feel slight muscle aches and/or fever for a day or two after getting the vaccination, so bear this in mind if you are unsure whether or not getting the injection is the right thing for you to do.
If you experience ongoing discomfort in your arm after being vaccinated, there are a few things you can do that might make you feel better:
- regularly moving your sore arm so it doesn't get stiff
- take paracetamol or ibuprofen (but make sure any medication you give to children is suitable for them to take)
- use an ice pack if you feel the area becoming hot (although don't apply ice directly to your skin)
- use a heat pad or warm compress on the affected part of your arm
Is the flu jab a live vaccine?
Even though there's a chance you may feel poorly after getting the jab, it only contains inactivated strains of the virus.
According to the health service, the vaccine does contain live, weakened forms of the virus, but this won't cause flu in those receiving the injection.
However, it's worth noting that if you or your children have an egg allergy, this should be pointed out to the person administering the jab. This is because the virus is usually grown on hens eggs, although an alternative version is available for people who will experience an adverse reaction to this.