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Home » Respiratory » People are being urged to get a flu jab this winter

Aminah Mirza

NHS Services Manager, Superdrug

Tracy Roughley

Clinical Nurse Advisor, Superdrug

With the onset of winter, people are being urged to get vaccinated against respiratory conditions such as flu and pneumonia.

Pharmacists are keen to stress that vaccination is more important than ever this year as many people’s immune systems have been weakened through reduced contact because of social distancing measures introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both flu and pneumonia are potentially serious – particularly for vulnerable groups such as the elderly, children, pregnant women and those with weak immune systems. However, they can be less severe if people have a flu jab, and where possible, vaccination against pneumonia.

Preventing potential complications

Pharmacist Aminah Mirza, an NHS services manager for Superdrug, says the flu jab will help prevent people from getting flu, or developing complications from flu, such as pneumonia.

Flu symptoms can include fever, headache, tiredness, muscle aches, sore throat, nasal congestion, stomach pain, digestive problems, weakness, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, shivering, cough, nausea and vomiting.

The big concern is that anyone who contracts flu will be at increased risk of a serious case COVID-19.

Some people may experience flu-like symptoms after the vaccination, though they are unlikely to be severe. The big concern is that anyone who contracts flu will be at increased risk of a serious case COVID-19 because their immune system will be compromised.1

“To protect yourself from worse symptoms of COVID, it would be beneficial to get a flu jab,” adds Aminah Mirza. “The emphasis on the flu jab is because flu is a big killer every single year and this year it is predicted to be even worse.”

The free NHS flu jab, for at-risk groups including the over-50s, is available at Superdrug. For other groups it costs £9.99.

Protection against pneumonia

Pneumonia vaccinations are also available and can protect against a range of bacterial infections.

Clinical Nurse Advisor Tracy Roughley, who works at the Superdrug nurse clinic in Corporation Street, Birmingham, says: “While it is often referred to as the pneumonia vaccine, it also protects against other pneumococcal bacteria, such as forms of meningitis.”

A one-off vaccine, it is free to at-risk groups on the NHS, or available to other groups through nurse clinics such as Superdrug for anybody aged two and above. Two types of pneumonia vaccines are available, offering different ranges of protection.

Tracy Roughley stresses the importance of protection as there are currently many respiratory viruses and bacteria circulating. “Flu and pneumonia vaccines are not going to protect against COVID-19,” she adds, “but they will help boost the immune system and give some protection against other respiratory infections, it will also help to protect the NHS and keep people out of hospital and at work.”


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