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Q&A: Dispelling the myths – the importance of the flu vaccine

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Ash Soni

President, Royal Pharmaceutical Society

The flu vaccine is readily available; people are encouraged to get the flu vaccine every year, but some people are still hesitant. Flu affects people of all ages and outbreaks occur almost every year, which is why we must get the message across that it’s important to get the vaccine.

Q: Why should we get the flu vaccination?

A: There is a presumption that coming down with the flu won’t be any worse than a bad cold but in actual fact, it can be very dangerous. The flu can cause hospitalisation and even cause death.

The flu vaccine is the best defence we have against such an unpredictable virus. It not only protects people who have received the vaccine but also those around them, including those who are more vulnerable (babies and young children, older people and people with chronic health conditions).

Healthy people can have flu without any obvious symptoms and while it may not cause them any harm, they can pass it on to somebody more susceptible.

Most pharmacists can administer the vaccine and answer any questions people may have.

Q: Will the flu vaccine give you the flu?

A: A common question that pharmacists encounter is: “Will the vaccine give me a dose of the flu?” The flu vaccine contains inactivated flu viruses or ‘dead viruses’ so it can’t give you the flu. It can trigger an immune response with some mild symptoms including achy muscles or a low-grade fever and some tenderness where the flu shot was given.

Click here to read about the company fighting to to lessen the severity and impact of influenza, which can reach epidemic or even pandemic proportions, with life-threatening consequences.

Q: Why and when do we need to get vaccinated?

A: The flu virus evolves and there can be different strains of the flu virus each year. New and updated flu vaccines are released every year to keep up with evolving strains of the virus – last year’s vaccine may not protect against this year’s virus.

The vaccination season in the UK starts from September and if there are any changes, vaccination providers and the public are notified.

High uptake of the flu vaccination is vitally important for the health of our population. If we vaccinate enough people, the risk of the flu spreading decreases significantly, particularly among those most vulnerable.

Get your vaccine at the pharmacy

Anyone who has questions about the flu vaccine can be advised by their nurse, doctor or pharmacist. Getting the vaccination at a pharmacy can be convenient for people as an appointment isn’t necessary and it can be done outside of work hours and during the weekend.

Most pharmacists can administer the vaccine and answer any questions people may have.

Seqirus has had no input to the content of this editorial; the views expressed are the sources’ own.

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