Why do I need the Flu Vaccination?
Flu Vaccinations available in St Andrews, Perth & Dundee
The flu vaccine is the best available protection against the flu virus. It's safe, takes a couple of minutes and lasts for around a full year. The Flu is more than a bad cold and can make you feel very unwell. It is a highly infectious illness and absolutely anyone can contract it. Although it doesn't sound very serious, in some cases it can bring on pneumonia or other serious infections which in extreme cases could cause death.
This is why the flu vaccine is offered each winter (or flu season), to make sure we are as protected as we can be from contracting and spreading the flu virus. Although you may not need to worry about the flu being dangerous to you, it is worth considering the flu jab for a number of reasons. Maybe you are wondering if you are eligible for the vaccination for free on the NHS? You may know you aren't eligible but want to know if you are still able to have it privately.
After 2018's vaccination shortage, and concern surrounding Brexit, many people are concerned that they may be unable to get the flu vaccination. With virulent strains being blamed for a rise in deaths over the last few years, it is important for the NHS and private medical practices to work together to ensure that the immunisation is available to everyone who needs it, and to everyone who wants to be protected.
What are the symptoms of the flu?
With the flu, symptoms often come on very quickly and can include the following:
Fever (temperature above 38°C)
Tiredness or exhaustion
General aches and pains
A dry, chesty cough
Who can get the flu vaccine free on the NHS?
Any strain of flu can be dangerous for people who are particularly vulnerable to it. It is for this reason that the NHS offers the flu jab free of charge to a number of different vulnerable groups. The NHS vaccine is offered to the following people:
People with certain health conditions (such as an underlying heart condition, respiratory problem including asthma or a weakened immune system)
People aged 65+
People that work in healthcare
Unpaid carers and young carers
All children in Scotland aged 2-5 years old
All Primary school children at their school
If you do not fall into one of these categories, or are a visiting student from another country but would like to be protected from the flu, you can get a vaccine in a number of pharmacies or visit your private GP to receive the flu vaccination.
Tell me more about the vaccine
The flu jab can take around 10 days to start to work and should help to protect you from the flu for around a year.
Why do I have to be immunised every year?
The viruses change or adapt constantly (in an attempt to infect us). This is why we need to adapt our vaccines, and the very clever people in medical labs adapt the vaccine to suppress the virus. In addition, our immunity to the flu reduces over time, so in keeping topped up with the vaccine, we are preventing the virus from affecting us.
I've heard that the flu jab can give you the flu, is this right?
The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu. It's designed to stop you from catching it. You will sometimes hear of the vaccine containing a "live" virus, but with the adult flu vaccination in the UK, this is not the case. In a "live" virus vaccination, there is a small amount of the weakened virus in the vaccine. It does not cause the illness, but the body is able to adequately fight off the virus and develop an immunity to it properly. Your flu vaccine provider should provide you with some information on the vaccine you are being given. Any good pharmacist, nurse or doctor will be happy to provide you with more information should you request it from them.
Which vaccines are commonly used in Scotland?
In Scotland, we routinely use the following:
Sanofi Pasteur (quadrivalent inactivated vaccine)
Mylan (quadrivalent inactivated vaccine)
Flucelvax Tetra (quadrivalent inactivated vaccine)
Fluad® (adjuvanted trivalent inactivated vaccine - aTIV)
Is the flu jab effective?
Over the last decade, the flu vaccine has been a good match to tackle the different strains of flu, so we can be confident that having the vaccination is the best form of protection against catching the flu. Even if by chance you did manage to catch the flu after having a flu jab, your symptoms should be much less severe because you have chosen to have that extra level of protection.
Is the flu vaccination safe, and how do we know?
All medicines and vaccinations are tested for safety and effectiveness. This testing is done by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulator Agency (MHRA). We are lucky to have high safety standards and regulations in the UK, and the vaccine has been given to millions of people worldwide.
What's reassuring to know is that once the vaccines are in use, they are closely monitored by the MHRA to assess their continued safety.
When and where can I have the flu vaccination?
The flu vaccine is available from October to March, every year. The earlier you get it, the less likely you will be to get the flu that winter.
If you are aged 65 or older, you should receive a letter in the post from the NHS to make an appointment. If you think you are in any of the other eligible categories, contact your NHS GP and they should be able to arrange this for you.
If you do not fall under the free NHS vaccination bracket, it is still possible for you to pay to have the immunisation.
You have the option of visiting your private GP practice to have the immunisation done there. This will be much more convenient for students as they can make an appointment at a time that suits them, during class breaks or on a day off, and have the immunisation done by a private GP.
We offer the flu vaccine for £48.
Are there any side effects to having the flu jab?
The most common side effects are mild muscle aches, headache, fatigue, fever and maybe a bit of a sore arm. These symptoms will subside in a couple of days and are the immune system's natural response to the vaccine.
Is there any reason why I might not be able to have the flu jab?
Most people can have the flu jab, but if you are already ill with a fever, it is best to postpone it until you're better. If you only have a mild cold, you should still be ok to receive your flu jab.
If you have had a serious reaction to the flu jab in the past, or if you are allergic to any of the ingredients used during the manufacture of the vaccine, you may not be able to have the vaccination. There may be a suitable alternative vaccination to suit you, so you should ask your GP about this.
Flu Vaccinations available at Vaila Health
The flu vaccination is your best source of protection against the flu. It's safe, takes just a few minutes brings you around a year of protection from the flu. We offer the quadrivalent flu vaccine. This is considered the best, as it protects you against the four most common flu strains of the season, whereas some flu vaccines cover less.
If you are not entitled to the vaccination with the NHS, but you would still like one, you can book in with a doctor at Vaila Health and have the vaccination within just a few minutes for £48.
Alternatively, if you choose to have one of our comprehensive Health MOTs this winter season, we are offering the flu vaccination alongside that free of charge.
Any questions about anything from the above? Want to find out more, or maybe I have missed something? Let me know in the comments or call us on 0333 577 5999. Alternatively, pop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Croftwell, Prior Muir, St Andrews, KY16 8LP
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