Why flu jab is vital in winter

Ampule and syringe
Ampule and syringe

People across Scotland are being urged to get the flu jab this winter, to reduce their risk of suffering from the potentially serious complications of the virus.

Catching flu doesn’t just mean a couple of days in bed – it is a serious illness. If you’re pregnant, over 65 years of age or have an existing long-term health condition such as diabetes, asthma or other heart and lung conditions, it can lead to serious complications such as pneumonia or bronchitis. In extreme cases it could result in hospitalisation or even death.

But you can protect yourself and your loved ones from flu this winter.

The flu vaccine is free and available from your GP or health centre. To be protected, get your jab early before flu viruses are circulating.

The flu jab is being offered to everyone aged 65 and over; pregnant women; those in long-stay residential care homes; unpaid carers and young carers; and those with chronic respiratory disease; chronic heart disease; chronic kidney disease; chronic liver disease; chronic neurological disease; diabetes and immuno-suppression.

Local health professionals are urging everyone 
in ‘at risk’ groups, to come forward and receive their annual flu jab as soon as 
possible.

Dr Henry Prempeh, Public Health Consultant at Forth Valley, said: “Flu should be taken seriously – it’s not the same as the common cold and the virus can have an immediate and severe effect.

‘‘If you are in one of the 
at risk groups, then it’s important to protect yourself from flu as it could hit you harder and last much longer. In severe cases you could even end up in hospital.

“If you’re in one of the at risk groups and haven’t been contacted yet then you should make an appointment with your GP to get the free vaccination as soon as you can.

‘‘It only takes a few 
minutes to be vaccinated but it will give you protection against flu for around a year.

‘‘The jab is quick, easy and safe so don’t take the chance of getting ill this winter.”

The vaccine takes around ten days to work and will protect you for around a year.

Even if you received the jab last year, it’s important that you still come forward for it again this year.

The virus constantly changes and your immunity reduces over time so last year’s jab won’t necessarily protect you from this year’s flu viruses.

Many local people avoid taking up the offer of the flu jab for fear that it contains live viruses and will make them sick.

This is a complete myth. Don’t worry as the vaccine can’t give you flu but it can stop you catching it.

However, the vaccine works by helping your body to identify and fight the 
virus so if you do feel achy for a day or so after getting the jab, this can be a good sign that the vaccination is working and that your immune system is responding.

If you have a weak 
immune system and don’t receive the flu jab then you could be putting your health at serious risk.

The jab will protect you against three strains of this year’s flu so it’s the safest and most effective way of safe guarding yourself from the virus this winter.

For further information on the flu campaign, log on to www.immunisation
scotland.org.uk.