Flu is an acute infection of the respiratory system caused by several different strains of influenza virus. Most people recover from flu in one or two weeks, however those with weakened immunity or other health risks can be affected much more severely. Every year, the flu viruses evolve, requiring the production of a new vaccine each year with improved protection against influenza. In 2017, a much higher than expected number of people were hospitalised with severe flu, so it’s more important than ever that at risk and healthy people alike get vaccinated to stop the spread of illness.
Symptoms of flu
Flu symptoms are similar to common cold but are far more severe. Suffers of flu often have a high fever, a dry chesty cough, chills, joint & muscle pain and overwhelming tiredness. Most flu sufferers will find themselves bed ridden due to their symptoms. You might also experience nausea/vomiting, diarrhoea, sore throat, loss of appetite and insomnia.
The flu vaccine
The flu vaccine contains a very small amount of several strains of influenza virus. Upon administering the vaccine, the body starts to produce antibodies which help protect you against flu viruses. The vaccine cannot offer complete protection against flu, but will hugely reduce the risk of infection and will reduce the seriousness of symptoms.
Flu symptoms are similar to common cold but are far more severe, most flu sufferers will find themselves bed ridden due to their symptoms
Nomad offer the quadrivalent flu vaccine. This is a new vaccine that covers four strains of flu virus rather than just three as in the past. The vaccine was improved to cover another strain of flu as the 2017 season saw a large increase in infections of the B strain.
How is flu spread?
Flu is spread through the moisture released when we sneeze or cough. The viruses are also spread through surface contamination when someone carrying the infection touches objects. It’s important to note that you can be spreading flu viruses even if you do not have any symptoms yet. It can take several days to develop symptoms and some healthy people may not suffer such severe symptoms that they realise they’re spreading flu. Whether you choose to get vaccinated or not, we’d recommend carrying hand and surface sanitiser to help kill any viruses you’ve come into contact with.
Who should get the flu vaccine?
At risk groups are advised to always get the yearly flu shot. For people in these groups, the flu shot is vital to protect against serious illness, hospitalisation or at worse death.
These at risk groups are:
- People aged 65 years or over
- People who are pregnant
- People who are immunocompromised
For anyone who is not in these at risk groups, getting vaccinated is advised if you:
- Work with large groups of people i.e. in an office or school. Some employers provide the flu jab to employees to avoid long periods of sickness. Nomad can make on-site visits to vaccinated your whole team against flu, call 01341 555 061 to arrange
- Work in hospitals or are a carer. Anyone who is coming into contact with at risk groups
- Are travelling during influenza season or are travelling to Saudi Arabia for Hajj or Umrah
- Are likely to be in heavily crowded places like festivals and sporting events
Anyone else not in these groups is welcome to have the flu vaccination, it’s available for everyone. The more people get vaccinated against flu, the less people will get seriously ill or die during the flu season, even if you’re healthy you can get vaccinated to protect yourself, help prevent the spread of infection to others and contribute to herd immunity.
Should you get the flu shot before travelling?
We always recommend travellers get the flu shot before travelling during influenza season. You’ll be exposed to lots of people on airplanes and public transport. If you suffer a bout of travellers diarrhoea or other illness while travelling, you’ll be at increased risk of influenza infection while your body is weakened and recovering.
Are there any side effects of the flu vaccine?
There are some common side effects of the flu shot. These include mild flu-like symptoms such as a runny nose, raised temperature, headache, tiredness or loss of appetite. The injection site may also be sore for several days. These are common side effects as your body build immunity to the flu viruses.
It’s better to get ahead of the flu season and get vaccinated well before December when infection rates start to rise rapidly
When should you get the flu shot?
We’d recommend getting the flu shot as early as possible. It’s better to get ahead of the flu season and get vaccinated well before December when infection rates start to rise rapidly. You can have the vaccine at any time, even if it’s late in the season, just call in to your nearest clinic and we’ll vaccinate you if we still have stock of the vaccine.
Where can I get the flu vaccine?
People in at risk groups can get the vaccine for free from their GP. Anyone not entitled to the free vaccine can visit their local Nomad clinic to get vaccinated for £10. You do not need to book an appointment, simply walk-in to any of our clinics and we’ll see you as soon as possible. We can also administer the flu vaccine during your travel health consultation, so just ask your Nurse for it in your pre-travel health consultation.