Age Cymru is encouraging over-65s to have their winter flu vaccination.
While the winter flu vaccination certainly saves lives, many people are not having it because they think it will give them flu.
As part of the Keep Well This Winter health promotion campaign, we are setting out to debunk this, and some of the other myths around immunisation against winter flu.
Our Health Initiatives Officer Joanne Bass says:
“It is very important that over-65s take up the opportunity to have the free winter flu vaccination.
“People who care for an older or disabled person should also have the vaccination to make sure that the people they are looking after are protected as well.
“If you are fit and healthy, you may only get mild symptoms if you catch winter flu.
“However if you have long-term health problems, winter flu can cause serious illness such as bronchitis and pneumonia - it can even lead to a hospital stay.
“And let’s not forget that people actually die from winter flu, so getting the flu vaccination should be part of your annual routine if you are 65 or over.”
Age Cymru’s winter flu facts:
• Does the winter flu vaccination give me flu? No, the winter flu vaccination will not give you the flu as it does not contain a live virus. The winter flu immunusation actually works by helping your body make antibodies to protect you from the flu.
• Do I need the winter flu vaccination every year? Yes, you do need to have an annual flu vaccination as new vaccines are produced each year because the winter flu virus changes every year.
• Who can have the vaccination? The seasonal flu vaccination is free for those who are over 65 years old or who have a long-term condition such as a heart problem; a chest complaint or breathing difficulties, including asthma (if you take regular inhaled or oral steroids), bronchitis, and emphysema; kidney disease; lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (such as steroid medication or cancer treatment); liver disease; a previous stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA); diabetes; a neurological condition for example; multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy or are suffering post-polio syndrome; no spleen or a problem with your spleen for example, sickle cell disease.
• Is there anyone who can’t have the vaccination? Those people who have a serious reaction to the flu vaccine or have a serious allergy to hens’ eggs cannot normally have the vaccination. If in doubt talk to your GP.
• Will antibiotics help? No, as flu is a virus and not bacterial, antibiotics won’t treat it.
• What are the symptoms of winter flu? Symptoms are usually worse than a cold and include fever, chills, headache, extreme tiredness and aching muscles;
• When and where do I get the vaccination? The vaccine is generally available from October onwards and GP practices have been asked to invite every patient who is eligible to make an appointment for their free vaccination. If your GP practice has not yet contacted you, get in touch as it can still be given throughout the winter. You may also be able to pay for a flu vaccination at a number of supermarkets and possibly your local chemist if that is more convenient for you.