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Page last updated on 18/11/2009
Keep Well this Winter 

Keep Well This Winter is a campaign which aims to provide information and support to enable people to keep safe and well during the winter months.

Download the leaflet for tips on keeping well and which also contains contact details of local organisations of schemes that can help older people.

It's Time To Get Your Flu Jab

Flu is a respiratory infection caused by the influenza virus. Various strains of the virus circulate throughout the world year-round, causing local outbreaks. In UK the flu season usually runs from November to April so get your flu jab early to avoid putting yourself at risk.

The influenza virus spreads through droplets that have been coughed or sneezed into the air by someone who has the flu. You can get the flu by breathing in these droplets through your nose or mouth. The flu virus is also found on the hands of people with the flu and on surfaces they have touched.

Flu viruses are capable of changing from year to year, so this is why it is necessary to be immunized each Autumn.

After you get a flu jab, your immune system produces antibodies against the strains of virus in the vaccine. The antibodies are effective for four to six months. When you are exposed to the influenza virus, the antibodies will help to prevent infection or reduce the severity of the illness.

The Health Effects of Flu

Flu typically starts with a headache, chills and cough, which are followed by fever, loss of appetite, muscle aches and fatigue, runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes and throat irritation. Most people recover within a week to ten days. However, some are at greater risk for more severe and longer-lasting complications, such as bronchitis and pneumonia. The groups at greater risk include very young children, people over 65, and people who already have medical conditions, such as chronic respiratory disease, heart or kidney disease, diabetes or a depressed immune system because of cancer, HIV infection, or some other cause.

Minimising Your Risk

The most effective way to protect yourself from flu is to be vaccinated each year in the Autumn. Flu jabs are especially important for:

 

 adults and children with chronic heart and lung disease
 anyone living in a nursing home
 people 65 years of age and older
people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, anemia, cancer, immune suppression, HIV or kidney disease
 health care workers, other caregivers and household contacts capable of transmitting influenza to the above at-risk groups

Certain groups should not be vaccinated. These include children under six months of age and people who have had a severe allergic reaction to eggs (because eggs are used in the manufacture of the vaccine) or an allergic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine.
Regular hand washing is another way to help minimize your risk. By washing your hands often, you will reduce your chance of becoming infected after touching contaminated surfaces.

If you get the flu, you should increase the amount of fluids you drink (water, juice, soups) and get plenty of rest for seven to ten days.

The Health Effects of Flu Jabs

The benefits of flu jabs far outweigh the risks. The flu vaccine cannot cause influenza because it does not contain any live virus. The most common side effect is soreness at the site of injection, which may last a couple of days. You might also notice fever, fatigue and muscle aches within six to 12 hours after your jab, and these effects may last a day or two. The primary reason to get a flu jab is to protect yourself from health effects related to flu.

How Do I Get a Flu Jab

Speak to you GP or Practice Nurse. They will be best placed to advise you on the basis of you personal circumstances.  If you live in a long-stay care home you should speak with your manager or nurse.

Get The Pneumococcal Jab Too....

You can also have a free pneumococcal jab if you are:

Age 65 years or over
Have a chronic medical condition such as chronic respiratory disease, heart or kidney
disease, diabetes or a depressed immune system because of cancer, HIV infection, or some other cause.

Unlike the flu jab this will normally be given to you only once and can be given at the same time as the flu jab – but in a different site.  If you would like more information ask your GP or Practice Nurse.

Age Concern Cymru

Food Standards Agency Wales

NHS Direct Wales

National Public Health Service

Mid and West Wales Fire Services