DR ELLIE CANNON: Don't wait for winter - have the flu jab now

The flu season may feel far away but new research show that a flu jab can prevent heart attacks. DR ELLIE CANNON says now is the time to book a jab


Hope: Could a vaccine be on the way?

Why should I have it?

Anybody can have a flu jab but there are certain high-risks groups who are offered them as a priority on the NHS. This includes all those over 65

and anyone with chronic heart, lung or kidney disease, as well

as diabetics. Anyone else must pay for a vaccine privately.

What's in it?

The vaccine contains deactivated particles of the flu virus. This tricks your immune system into thinking the virus is in the body and so it creates protective antibodies that prevent you falling ill when presented with flu. Each year the flu vaccine is refined to help protect against current strains..

Can a child with diabetes have a jab?

Yes. All children with chronic diseases and weaker immune systems should have the vaccine.

When should you have it?

Now. The earlier in the winter you can get it the better to protect you for the season. GP surgeries will have their vaccines in stock already and most will offer flu clinics throughout the week. 

How soon does it kick in?

It takes two weeks for the body to develop antibodies after the jab.

Does it stop you getting other things?

No. The flu vaccine is made specifically to defend against the current strain of flu. Antibodies are very specific and recognise the tiniest change in detail of viruses. If a virus looks even slightly different from the one the antibodies recognise, they are not active against it.

Why does it stop heart attacks?

The study reported last week showed that a significant proportion of vulnerable people suffer a heart attack after getting flu, possibly because the virus affects blood vessels in the heart. The vaccine was shown to prevent heart attacks which follow flu.

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