Last year 15 million Brits got the flu vaccine, and even more are due to have it this year. The Government has extended the free jab to people aged 50 and over, and 11 year olds. The idea is to rule out the flu to avoid confusion between the symptoms of the flu and COVID-19. Less people getting the flu also prevents double-whammy of the two illnesses overwhelming the NHS this winter. Can the flu jab make you ill?
In July, Boris Johnson said he wants everybody to get a flu jab.
He said: “We want everybody to get a flu jab in the run-up to this winter and that’s why we’re rolling out the biggest ever programme of flu immunisation.
“And we’re aiming first of all for schoolchildren up to Year 7, for pregnant women, for people over 65, for people who are shielded, but then we will be extending it to people who are 50 to 65.
“Now the reason for doing this is to protect the NHS in the winter months because obviously we have still got covid, we have still got the threat of a second spike on covid and it’s vital therefore to keep that pressure off the NHS by everybody getting a flu jab and I really hope everybody will.”
On BBC Breakfast, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We want to go as far as we can and so, for the over-50s, the jab will be available once we have done the core work of trying to get to as many of the over-65s and those who have got underlying health conditions as possible.”
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He has also said: “We have the biggest flu jab programme ever this autumn; we’ve expanded it because we don’t want a flu outbreak at the same time as dealing with coronavirus.”
On top of this change, health workers such as pharmacists, nurses and technicians are now able to administer jabs.
You can get the vaccine at your GP surgery, a local pharmacy that offers the service, or your midwifery service if they offer it for pregnant women.
The Government wants everyone eligible for the jab to have it by Christmas.
The flu vaccine is the best protection against the flu you can get, but it can take 10 to 14 days for it to kick in.
It protects against the main types of flu viruses, but there’s still a chance you might get the flu.
If you do get the flu after having the jab, it will be milder and not last as long.
The vaccine also stops you from spreading flu to others who are at risk.
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Can the flu jab make you ill?
While the flu jab is very safe, it may cause mild side effects that make you feel ill.
For example, your temperature might be higher than normal, and your arm may be sore from where the needle went in.
Sometimes this spot is red, swollen, or itchy too.
You could also have muscle aches, feel nauseous, tired, and under the weather.
Taking painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen and resting should help the symptoms.
None of the flu vaccines contain live viruses so you won’t have the flu after having it.
Chances are you have something else or you caught the flu before you vaccination kicked in.
It is extremely rare for anyone to experience severe side effects, and very few people can have an allergic reaction to the vaccine.
If you do have a reaction, it will show within minutes of the vaccination and the administrator will be trained to deal with it.