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Flu is a debilitating viral illness that causes those affected to develop high temperatures, aches, fatigue and sore throats. In the elderly and the young it can extremely dangerous. It some cases it can have complications such as bacterial pneumonia in those with poor immune systems.

If you have flu the best advice is to stay at home and keep well hydrated. Keep rested and use paracetamol when needed. It should resolve within a week. You can seek advice through 111 if you are unable to keep your temperature down or are not getting better in a few days.

How do we prevent ourselves from catching flu?

The flu virus if highly contagious. A vaccine is the most effective way of preventing flu.

The flu vaccines are targeted against the most common flu strains circulation in the previous 6 months in the southern hemisphere. 

What flu vaccines are available?

Trivalent:
The NHS has mainly used a trivalent vaccine ( protection against 3 strains of flu  – Two influenza A and 1 B influenza  strain). Private GPs and pharmacies have in the main used 

Quadrivalent:
Quadriavlent flu vaccinations (protection against 4 strains of flu, covering against 2 influenza A and 2 influenza B strains).

Nasal:
Live vaccine for children 3 for  to 9 year olds through the NHS GP or schools.

What is Aussie flu?

Strain A/HN32.  It is in all flu vaccines this year 

What is Japanese Flu?

The B strain Yamagata (or Phuket).
It is only in the Quadrivalent flu vaccine and the nasal flu vaccine for children

French Flu?

This is at the A/H1N1 strain. 
In all the flu vaccines, ie trivalent, quadrivalent and nasal this year

I’ve had a flu vaccine but I am still ill?

You could have had a vaccine that did not covered the strain the you have caught.

You may not have flu. If you are unsure, you may wish to call 111 for advice.

I heard the flu vaccine didn’t work last year?

The H3N2 virus (Aussie-flu this year) is one that can mutate easily, and so yes it resulted in less coverage last year as the vaccine used was less effective against the H3N2 virus once it has mutated. However, as the flu vaccines do cover other strains it is still worth having them. Particularly this year when three major strains are in circulation.

Can the vaccine give you flu?

No.

If you wish to know more about the flu vaccine you have had please contact your provider, If you have not had your vaccine it is still well worth getting it, and your surgery, pharmacies or private GP will be able to provide it. Although the quadrivalent vaccine provides the most coverage, it is in short supply, and if unavailable, the trivalent vaccine is better than nothing at all. Private GP Services currently have the quadrivalent vaccine at their Springfield Hospital and Hart Spirewood Hospital practices. See the Private GP Services website for more information and ways to book.

Dr Jo Josson McConnell