Winter is quickly approaching and with it flu season.
Millions of people are being encouraged to book their flu jabs online this week in a bid to ease pressures on the NHS this winter.
While most flu sufferers feel sore, exhausted and suffer from a sore throat, the virus can be life-threatening. for seniors and people with underlying health conditions. It may also increase the risk of complications for pregnant women.
But an annual flu vaccine can help protect these vulnerable groups from becoming seriously ill.
Here, MailOnline breaks down who can get a flu vaccine and how to book it.
Figures already show that 3.7 million people have received the flu vaccine since the campaign began on September 11.
The flu can make most people feel lightheaded, with a cough, sore throat, and high temperature. But for some it can be much more serious.
Who is eligible to receive the flu vaccine this winter?
The vaccine is available free of charge on the NHS for those most at risk of becoming seriously ill with flu.
This year, among the 30 million eligible people are those over 65 years of age; pregnant women; all children two or three years old; school-age children; those who are in long-term residences; caregivers and close contacts of immunocompromised people.
Anyone under the age of 65 and who has certain health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, some neurological diseases, liver disease, or a weakened immune system (for example, because they were prescribed steroids or received cancer treatment), You can also get a free hit.
Those with other long-term health conditions, such as learning disabilities, HIV or a BMI over 40, are also eligible.
How much does the puncture cost?
Eligible groups can receive the vaccine for free on the NHS.
But those who are not included in the criteria can pay to receive the vaccine at some pharmacies or supermarkets.
Vaccines at Boots, Superdrug and Lloyds Pharmacy cost between £17 and £20.
Tesco also offers a private service to customers aged 12 and over for £13.
How is the vaccine reserved?
It’s easy to book a flu vaccine and figures already show that 3.7 million people have received a flu vaccine since the campaign began on 9/11.
Many people are also choosing to ‘do double’ and receive their flu and Covid vaccines at the same time.
Those who are eligible for an NHS flu vaccine can book an appointment through their GP. Those aged 18 and over can choose to book at a pharmacy offering NHS flu vaccines or book the appointment on the NHS website.
Some people may receive an invitation to receive the vaccine, but there is no need to wait to make a booking, the NHS says.
She adds that the vaccine may also be offered to you through a local maternity service if you are pregnant, a care home or an employer if you are a frontline health or social care worker.
Does it have side effects?
Like most vaccines, the flu vaccine is a bit itchy and has side effects.
But most of these are mild and only last about a day.
People over 65 and people with certain long-term health conditions, such as diabetes, asthma and coronary heart disease, can receive the vaccine for free on the NHS.
Feeling pain or having a slightly elevated temperature for a few days is a common side effect caused by the immune system’s reaction to the vaccine.
Your arm may also hurt where the needle entered.
To help relieve pain, the NHS suggests continuing to move your arm regularly and taking a pain reliever such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.
Serious side effects are extremely rare, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). One in a million people may suffer from Guillain-Barré syndrome, which causes muscle weakness and paralysis.
But the flu itself is deadly. It is believed to have killed around 14,500 people in England last winter. However, getting the vaccine dramatically reduces the risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death.
How effective are the hits?
It is still possible to become infected with a flu strain even after receiving the vaccine, because various flu viruses circulate all the time and no vaccine is 100 percent effective.
But despite this, getting the vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of being hospitalized with the flu.
Last winter there were 66 percent fewer children; According to UKHSA, 25 percent fewer adults aged 65 and over and 33 percent fewer other adults with underlying health conditions were hospitalized with the flu.
After getting the vaccine, if you get the flu, it is likely to be much milder and not last as long, the NHS says.
It can also help prevent you from spreading the flu to other vulnerable people who could be at risk of becoming seriously ill.
What is the flu?
The flu is the name of a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses.
It mainly infects the nose and throat, although it can sometimes reach the lungs.
Most cases are mild but can be fatal.
The flu is spread primarily through small droplets produced when infected people cough, sneeze, or talk.
Flu vaccines are considered the best protection against viruses, but they can take up to two weeks to take effect.
People need to get a flu vaccine every year because the viruses that cause illness can change.
Experts formulate flu vaccines based on global data, particularly by analyzing the type of flu viruses that are spreading in parts of the world experiencing winter.
It then takes about six months to produce sufficient quantities of vaccines.
Flu symptoms may include:
- a sudden high temperature
- a sore body
- feeling tired or exhausted
- a dry cough
- throat pain
- A headache
- difficulty to sleep
- loss of appetite
- diarrhea or belly pain
- feel sick and be sick