Make sure you’re protected against the flu this winter

Flu vaccine

Local health chiefs across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are encouraging people in the area to protect themselves from the flu this winter by getting the flu jab as soon as possible. 

It is free for those who are at increased risk from the effects of flu: people aged 65 and over, children aged 2-3, pregnant women, carers and those with long-term health conditions. It’s free because you need it.

Cold weather can be particularly harmful for older people as it weakens the immune system, increases blood pressure, thickens the blood and lowers body temperature, increasing risks of heart attacks, strokes and chest infections.

Flu can be horrible for little children and easily spreads around the whole family, so it’s important to get them protected. For children, the flu vaccine is just a quick nasal spray – not an injection.

Pregnancy naturally lowers the immune system, so the flu jab is the safest way to help protect you and your baby against flu. You can have the vaccination at any stage of pregnancy.

Dr Y. B. Shah, Leicestershire GP says: “Flu, on top of an existing long-term health condition, can easily develop into something very serious and could land you in hospital. If you have a condition like COPD, bronchitis, emphysema, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease or have suffered a stroke, you should get the flu jab without delay.

“Don’t put it off. Ask your GP, pharmacist or midwife about the free flu vaccine now. If you are the main carer of an older or disabled person you may also be eligible for the free flu jab.”

Some of the main symptoms of the flu include:

  • sudden fever – a temperature of 38°C or above
  • aching body
  • feeling tired or exhausted
  • dry, chesty cough
  • sore throat
  • headache
  • difficulty sleeping
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhoea or tummy pain
  • nausea and being sick.

If you think you have the flu, it’s best to care for yourself at home to prevent the further spread of germs. Get plenty of rest, keep warm, drink plenty of water, and take paracetamol or ibuprofen if you have a high temperature or any aches and pains. If you need advice, you can call NHS 111 for free at any time, day or night. 

To reduce the risk of spreading flu, use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze, wash your hands often with warm water and soap, and bin used tissues as quickly as possible.