Winter is well and truly upon us and as the cold season takes hold, cold and flu viruses run rampant. Now, there is no vaccination for the common cold, but there is a vaccination available to help combat the spread of flu.
The NHS offers free vaccinations to groups who are more likely to develop a serious case of flu, or serious side effects, such as pneumonia. These groups are:
- 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
Typically, healthy individuals who do not fall into these groups, do not need to undergo a vaccination. Though there are exceptions, for example adults working with children may wish to consider being vaccinated. Many pharmacies and even supermarkets are now offering the flu jab to all for a small fee ranging from £5-£12.99.
Flu can reach epidemic proportion in the UK and each year a government report is released, detailing the season’s flu and other respiratory infections. 2015-2016’s report outlined a moderate threat from flu over the season.
How to protect yourself from flu
The decision to receive a flu vaccination should be discussed with your GP in advance. The jab will help protect you against flu, or lessen the impact of the virus should you develop it.
However, should you decide not to undergo a flu jab, you can help prevent the spread of flu with a few simple techniques, summarised in the NHS Catch It, Bin It, Kill it campaign:
- Keep surfaces clean
- Wash hands regularly
- Cough and sneeze into tissues and throw them away as soon as possible
These may seem simple, but are integral to staying well.
Advice for staying well in winter
To stay well in winter, it is a good idea to:
- Keep warm
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Get plenty of sleep
- Exercise regularly
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