The correct terminology for the flu is Influenza; it is a viral infection which is spread by droplet infection. It’s caught when people breathe in these droplet infections which have become airborne when the infected person has either sneezed or coughed into the air. It can also be transmitted via hard surfaces by contaminated hands etc.The flu whilst rarely fatal nowadays can be further complicated if it develops into either a sever chest/upper respiratory infection or pneumonia. These complications often need hospital treatment and can sometimes be fatal.
The flu virus is active all the year round, but is especially prevalent in winter months. This is probably due to the fact that people are more likely to stay indoors during the winter months breathing in the infected air of someone else who has the virus.
There are safe and effective vaccines against the flu and it is recommended that those people who are most at risk of developing the virus should be inoculated. This includes
* Anyone who has some type of lung disease
* Anyone suffering from Diabetes
* Anyone who has asthma
* Anyone suffering from heart, kidney, liver disease,
* Anyone who has a lowered immunity
* Health care professionals
If you are at risk of developing the flu virus, you should have a flu vaccination every year. The reason for this is because the virus mutates over a short period of time and the previous year’s vaccination becomes ineffective against the new strain.
Unfortunately it can be quite difficult to predict the strain of flu virus that will be the most prevalent. Scientists and doctors work hard to predict the most likely, but sometimes they get it wrong. If they do, then unfortunately even though you have been vaccinated against a specific type of flu, there may be the possibility that you will develop another strain that you’ve not been vaccinated against.
There is a school of thought amongst some people that flu vaccinations can give them the flu. This simply isn’t true. Though some people may experience symptoms of a heavy cold after they have received their flu vaccination it is usually because they were developing one anyway. Remember there are lots of lots of cold viruses about in the autumn and winter.
One major misconception about the flu vaccination is that it will protect people against the common cold. This is not the case. The flu vaccination only protects against a specific flu virus not any other viruses.
The flu vaccination is usually available from around October onwards, though it is a good idea to take it as early as possible, it can be given at any time throughout the winter months.