Prevention and treatment of flu
Treatment at home
People with suspected flu who are not in the at-risk groups should:
- stay at home
- drink plenty of fluids while they are recovering, and
- consider taking paracetamol/ibuprofen-based painkillers or cold remedies to lower their temperature and relieve their symptoms.
The purpose of the seasonal flu vaccination programme is to offer protection to those who are most at risk of serious illness or death should they develop influenza. Vaccines are produced each year, by a number of manufacturers, that provide protection against the three strains of influenza that the World Health Organisation considers may be the most prevalent in the following winter.
These vaccines give around 60-80% protection against infection with influenza virus strains with the higher protection when the strains are well matched with those in the vaccine, and according to the age and clinical conditions of the individuals. The protection afforded by the vaccine lasts for at least one flu season but the protection over the longer term is uncertain. In the elderly, protection against infection may be less, but immunisation has been shown to reduce the incidence of bronchopneumonia, hospital admissions and deaths.
Antiviral medicines prevent the influenza virus from replicating inside the body. They can lessen the symptoms by a couple of days and reduce their severity, and help to reduce the likelihood of complications.
Antiviral medicines are available on the NHS for certain groups of patients, including those in at-risk categories. The regulations have been changed to give GP’s more flexibility to prescribe antiviral medicines. This applies to patients who are not in one of the clinical risk groups, but who GP’s consider may be at risk of developing serious complications from flu.
Seasonal Flu Vaccinations Eligibility
If you have a long-term health condition, even one which is well managed, catching flu could make you seriously ill and make complications such as pneumonia more likely. You are at increased risk from flu if you have:
- a chronic (long-term) respiratory disease, such as severe asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or bronchitis
- chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- chronic kidney disease at stage 3, 4, or 5
- chronic liver disease
- chronic neurological disease, such as Parkinson’s disease, or motor neurone disease (MND)
- a weakened immune system due to disease (such as HIV/AIDS), or treatment (such as cancer treatment)
- Those aged 65 years and over
- all pregnant women
- all those aged two, three, and four
- people living in care homes
- those in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an older or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill
All children of school years 1 and 2 age – these will be vaccinated in schools by the school nurses.
If you are unsure of your eligibility then contact the surgery after 11 am. If you are not eligible then unfortunately the vaccine will not be given.