Leader's column: 'Beating the flu'

In her latest Reporter column, Tameside Council's Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington encourages people to get vaccinated against flu.

On Tuesday I had my annual flu vaccination. I would encourage anybody reading this to do the same.

This year, as always, certain people are eligible to receive their flu vaccination for free. These include; adults over the age of 65, people with a learning disability or long-term health condition, pregnant women, children aged two or three on August 21, 2019, all primary school aged children, carers for older or disabled people, and household contacts of people who are immunosuppressed.

There are a number of ways you can get your flu vaccination. The most common way for adults and children alike is going through their local GP practice, although adults can also choose to get their vaccination from a participating pharmacist instead. 

Primary school-aged children will receive the vaccination at schools - parents just need to remember to sign and return the consent forms. I’ve heard a number of myths that have stopped people from getting vaccinated in the past, and I want to use this opportunity to set the record straight.

The first myth is that the flu vaccine doesn’t work. Due to the fact that the flu virus is constantly changing, it is true that there’s no 100 per cent guarantee that you’ll be flu-free. 

That’s also why we recommend people should have the flu vaccine every year, as new vaccines are produced to fight new strains of flu. But even if you do catch the flu despite being vaccinated, it’s likely to be a lot milder and shorter-lived than it otherwise would have been.

The second myth I’ve heard is that the vaccine can itself give you the flu. The injected flu vaccine cannot cause flu because it contains no active viruses. In some cases, the vaccine can cause minor side effects such as a discomfort around the jab area, or a low-level fever or achiness. These can get you down for a couple of days, but they’re not the flu.

So, please make sure that you get your free flu jab if you’re entitled to it, because you were offered it for a reason. Even if you have to pay for your vaccination I would encourage you to get one anyway. 

Not only will you be taking care of yourself, you’ll also be taking care of everybody around you. Let’s make sure that a record number of people in Tameside can beat the flu and stay well this winter.

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