On the back of a record breaking bad winter for flu in Australia and New Zealand – which is often an early predictor for what’s to come for this side of the planet- the UK is bracing itself for its worst winter flu epidemic in 50 years.
It’s not all bad news as the vaccines currently being administered have been proven to fight the flu strains active in these areas, but is still cause for concern as scientists warn of a virological drift: which means that one vaccine that works in one country may be ineffective a few months later in another country.
The NHS offers a free flu jab to those who are likely to develop further health problems from catching the flu, including young children with long-term health conditions, the elderly 65+, pregnant women, and those with long-term health conditions such as;
- chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma
- bronchitis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- chronic kidney disease
- chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
- chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease or motor neurone disease
- problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed
- a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS or medication such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
For those not eligible for a free jab, it is also possible to pay for your own vaccine with local pharmacies such as Boots and Lloyds offering this service.