Public Health England (PHE) figures show that on average, flu kills 11,000 people per year, hospitalising thousands more.
The best way to protect yourself and others is to be vaccinated.
The vaccine is available for free for individuals deemed most at risk. This year, with COVID-19 in circulation, it is more important than ever that those eligible are vaccinated to protect them from flu and its complications.
We’ve dispelled some common myths below, so you have the facts when it comes to the flu vaccination.
“I never get flu and have never had the vaccine, so I don’t need it” - FALSE
The majority (77%) of people with flu have no symptoms – that’s 7 out of 10! Even if you feel well, you can still unknowingly spread flu to others, which could potentially cause severe complications, and even death, for the individual/s affected.
“The vaccine can give you flu and make you unwell” - FALSE
The vaccine does not contain any live viruses, so it cannot give you flu. Some people may experience a slightly raised temperature and achey muscles for a day or so afterwards. However, this is mild and other, more serious, reactions are very rare. If you have had what you believe is flu after a vaccination in the past, it may be that you caught this (or another type or virus) before your vaccination had taken effect.
“I had it last year so I don’t need it again” - FALSE
You need to have a flu vaccination each year, as the antibodies that protect you from flu decline over time, and the viruses that cause flu can change every year.
“I am on antibiotics - I can’t have the flu jab” - FALSE
It is perfectly safe to have the flu vaccination while you're taking a course of antibiotics, provided you're not ill with a high temperature.
“I am pregnant - I can’t have the flu jab” - FALSE
It is recommended that all pregnant women have the flu vaccine, as they have a higher chance of developing complications if they contract flu, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy.
Pregnant women can have the flu vaccination at any stage of their pregnancy. Women who receive the flu vaccine while pregnant also pass some protection on to their babies, which lasts for the first few months of their lives.
There are very few people unable to have the flu vaccine. However, if you have had a serious allergic reaction to the vaccine in the past, you should avoid it. People who have an egg allergy may be at risk of having a reaction. However, in recent years vaccines that are egg-free have become available.