Flu Vaccination

Doctor showing blue plaster after jab Although COVID-19 has been the focus in terms of preventing the spread of viruses over recent years, flu remains a threat. It's a deadly virus that kills thousands every year and is a particular risk to those already vulnerable. It also causes many more people, of all ages, to need the care of the NHS.

A spread of the flu infection in our wards and departments could lead to members of our team who help us provide the very best care to be off sick when we need them most during these challenging times.

Having the vaccine will help prevent you, your family, our patients and our colleagues from catching flu and is our best protection against the virus this winter. 

The virus survives for hours on surfaces such as door handles, counters and patient notes, and an outbreak of flu amongst any of our teams, whatever they do, would have a major impact on the care we provide. If you catch flu, you will often be infectious to others before any symptoms show, so anyone can pass on a fatal infection before they even realise they’re poorly.

We support the national recommendation that anyone with a medical condition that makes them more vulnerable to flu has the vaccination too, as well as their close carers.

Our children and young people are also offered the vaccination and because they are so prone to winter infections, we’d encourage families to ensure their child has theirs to help protect their whole household.

FAQs title

Can the flu jab give me flu?

No. This is a common myth. The flu vaccine only contains copies of broken-down parts of the flu virus. It is therefore impossible for it to give you flu.

Are there side effects?

Like any medication, there are some side effects, although these are almost always minor and don't last very long. Around one in 50 people get a mild fever and some report feeling a little achy. The most common side effects are a sore arm and localised swelling which both go without treatment.

You can manage these with simple over the counter medication if you need to, like paracetamol. The risk of a serious reaction (anaphylaxis) is very rare (less than one in a million), and the people most at risk - those with the more common egg allergies - can still have the vaccine.

Can you catch flu from contaminated surfaces?

Yes. It isn’t just coughing and sneezes that spread diseases. Flu can survive several hours on surfaces, such as door handles, telephones, pens or paperwork. This is why it is important that all our staff, not just those who see patients regularly, get vaccinated. It also reminds us why hand hygiene and infection control are important additional defences we need to keep practicing.

Can flu spread through the air?

You can catch flu from droplets coughed, sneezed or breathed out by someone near you with flu. You can also pick up the flu virus by contact with things an infected person has touched (including touching doors, keyboards etc…).

Does having a good diet protect me from flu?

There are lots of reasons for having a good diet and keeping fit, but unfortunately, it won’t stop you getting the flu. Don’t forget that even if the infection is mild, you can still pass it on to others at much greater risk, even before you know you are unwell. Some studies suggest up to one in four NHS staff are exposed to flu in a normal winter.

What if I am in a clinical ‘at risk’ group?

Thinking about having the flu vaccine is even more important for you. Please do have your jab as soon as possible if you haven’t already. If you’re a member of Team BWC you can have that here through drop-in sessions or from your GP.

Does last year’s jab protect me this year?

Unfortunately, no. There are new strains of flu circulating this year, and the vaccine has been updated to reflect these. The duration of protection from a flu vaccine is thought to be under a year anyway, so it is recommended that you have a booster each year to ensure maximum protection. Scientists are working on a universal flu vaccine, but we aren’t there yet. Having the jab each year might be a minor inconvenience, but it’s the only way to get up to date protection.

I’ve already had the flu this year. Do I need the jab?

Yes. You can’t be certain that it was definitely flu, and even if it was, there are still other flu strains that you won’t have protection against. If you really have had flu once, then getting the flu a second time in one winter probably doesn’t sound like a great idea to you.

Does the jab work?

Every year, the flu jab is updated to make sure it provides the best possible protection against the range of flu viruses that are circulating, and it most years it provides good protection against the majority of infections you might come across and is the best protection against flu. If you do get a different strain of flu after vaccination, it's likely to be milder and not last as long because you had the vaccine.

Can I have the flu jab if I have a respiratory condition?

Yes – in fact it’s more important that you do, as some lung conditions can make you more likely to have a bad outcome from flu.

Can I have a flu jab if I’m breastfeeding?

Yes. The vaccine poses no risk to a breastfeeding mother or her baby.

Is it OK to have the flu vaccine during pregnancy?

Yes. The flu vaccine is safe to have in any stage of pregnancy, including in the first trimester and up to the expected due date. Flu causes a significant number of deaths in pregnant women, so it’s even more important you get protected. It also protects the baby from catching flu in due course.