Importance of getting your flu jab

A flu vaccine is the best protection we have against an unpredictable virus that can cause unpleasant illness in children and severe illness and death among at-risk groups, including older people, pregnant women and those with an underlying medical health condition.

Studies have shown that the flu vaccine will help prevent you getting the flu. It won't stop all flu viruses and the level of protection may vary, so it's not a 100% guarantee that you'll be flu-free, but if you do get flu after the vaccination it's likely to be milder and shorter lived than it would otherwise have been.

There is also evidence to suggest that the flu vaccine can reduce your risk of having a stroke. Over time, protection from the injected flu vaccine gradually decreases and flu strains often change. So new flu vaccines are produced each year, which is why people advised to have the flu vaccine need it every year too.

After clean water, vaccination is the most effective public health intervention in the world for saving lives and promoting good health.

Globally, we have one of the best immunisation programmes in the UK and we’re always at the forefront of rolling out new programmes when the best vaccination is available.  Diseases our grandparents used to fear and that were the norm in the UK are now in most cases rare and in some cases consigned to the past entirely.

The move toward eradicating various infections as a public health problem is not just as simple as producing a new effective vaccination. It only works if the uptake of the new vaccination is high, so we rely on the trust of people to accept a vaccination when it is offered.

The World Health Organization (WHO) monitors influenza globally and each year convenes a vaccine composition group that recommends the strains of flu virus that should be included in the flu vaccine for the next flu season based on a review of data from around the world. 

It then takes 6-8 months for the vaccine manufacturers to produce sufficient quantities of the flu vaccine for the annual campaign.  Despite that, flu can be unpredictable and that can mean some years the vaccine is less effective.  That said, the vaccine remains the best defence we have to protect against the spread of flu and we encourage everyone eligible to get it each year.

Visit your local pharmacy or GP for your flu vaccine. 

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Copyright 2011 North East Ambulance Service Trust

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