Seasonal flu


Blue bugThings you should know about Seasonal Flu!

Seasonal flu occurs every year usually in the winter, flu symptoms can hit you suddenly and sometimes severely, they usually include fever, chills, headaches and aching muscles.

Flu is caused by viruses and not bacteria, so antibiotics won't treat it. Having flu can be much worse than a cold, some people are more susceptible to the effects of seasonal flu, and for them it can increase the risk of developing more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia, or can make existing conditions worse.

Flu is highly contagious and can affect people of all ages, most people recover in a week or two, but flu can cause serious illness and even death. The flu virus can be carried and passed on to others without having any symptoms, so even if someone is considered healthy, they could be risking the lives of others.

Who is at risk from Flu?

If you have any of the following conditions you can be at a much greater risk from flu:

  • A heart problem 
  • A chest complaint or breathing difficulties, including bronchitis or emphysema 
  • Asthma that requires continuous or repeated use of inhaled or systemic steroids 
  • A kidney disease 
  • Lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (such as steroid medication or cancer treatment) 
  • A liver disease 
  • Had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) 
  • Diabetes
  • A neurological condition, for example multiple sclerosis (MS) or cerebral palsy 
  • A problem with your spleen, for example sickle cell disease or you have had your spleen removed.

You should have the seasonal flu vaccination if you are:

  • Aged 65 years or over 
  • Living in a residential or nursing home 
  • The main carer of an older or disabled person 
  • A frontline health or social care worker
  • Pregnant (Please see Q&A Question 8).

Red bugWays to protect yourself 

  • Get the flu vaccination by contacting your GP or Local Primary Care Trust. The vaccination will help your body to fight flu viruses. Your body starts making antibodies against the viruses about a week to ten days after the injection. These antibodies help to protect you against similar seasonal flu viruses that you may come into contact with.
  • Wash your hands regularly this is recognised as an extremely important activity for minimising the risk of spreading infection.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing and make sure you dispose of dirty tissues

Please note that the North West Ambulance only provides vaccinations to Staff, Student Paramedics and NWAS Volunteers. Members of public who wish to be vaccinated are advised that the NHS provide the Flu Vaccine nationally through GP's or Local Primary Care Trusts, who will be able to provide further information on any future community lead vaccination clinics.

Don't wait until there is a flu outbreak to protect yourself.