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Flu Vaccinations



The Flu Jab

Flu vaccination is available every year on the NHS to help protect adults and children at risk of flu and its complications. Flu can be unpleasant, but if you are otherwise healthy it will usually clear up on its own within a week. However, flu can be more severe in certain people, such as anyone aged 65 and over, pregnant women and persons with long term conditions.

How the flu jab works

The injected flu vaccine stimulates your body’s immune system to make antibodies to attack the flu virus.Antibodies are proteins that recognise and fight off germs, such as viruses, that have invaded your blood. If you’re exposed to the flu virus after you’ve had the flu vaccine, your immune system will recognise the virus and immediately produce antibodies to fight it.It may take 10 to 14 days for your immunity to build up fully after you have had the flu shot.You need to have a flu jab every year, as the antibodies that protect you from flu decline over time, and flu strains can also change from year to year.

How the annual flu jab changes

In February each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) assesses the strains of flu virus that are most likely to be circulating in the northern hemisphere over the following winter.Based on this assessment, WHO recommends which flu strains the vaccines should contain for the forthcoming winter. Vaccine manufacturers then produce flu vaccines based on WHO’s recommendations. These flu jabs are used in all the countries in the northern hemisphere, not just the UK.Production of the vaccine starts in March each year after WHO’s announcement. The vaccine is usually available in the UK from September.

Types of flu virus

There are 3 types of flu viruses. They are:

  • Type A flu virus – this is usually the more serious type. The virus is most likely to mutate into a new version that people are not resistant to. The H1N1 (swine flu) strain is a type A virus, and flu pandemics in the past were type A viruses.
  • Type B flu virus – this generally causes a less severe illness and is responsible for smaller outbreaks. It mainly affects young children.
  • Type C flu virus – this usually causes a mild illness similar to the common cold.

Most years, 1 or 2 strains of type A flu circulate as well as type B.

Flu jab ingredients

As there is lots of different flu vaccines produced each year, for more detailed information on ingredients ask your doctor or nurse for the patient information leaflet for the specific vaccine being offered.The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. Traditional flu vaccines (called “trivalent” vaccines) are made to protect against three flu viruses; an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and an influenza B virus.

Is it for me?

If you are unsure as to whether the flu vaccines is for you the please speak with one of the members of the team that may be able to health you direct to someone who can.




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