Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NHS is extending its flu jab service to include more people. The NHS is preparing for winter, and as patients with flu sometimes need to be hospitalised, it is thought more vaccines will mean less pressure on the NHS. The NHS offers the flu jab for free to a number of eligible people, but you can also pay to have the vaccine privately.
Can you have a flu jab if you have a cold?
Whether you are well enough to receive a flu jab depends on your circumstances.
The NHS website explains: “If you’re ill with a high temperature, it’s best to delay having the flu vaccine until you have recovered.
“There’s no need to delay having the flu vaccine if you have a minor illness with no high temperature, such as a cold.
“However, with children who are offered a nasal spray vaccine, the vaccination may be postponed if the child has a heavily blocked or runny nose as it might stop the vaccine getting into their system.”
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should self-isolate immediately and book a coronavirus test.
Symptoms of coronavirus include a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change in your taste or smell.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or test positive for the virus, you should not leave your home to get a flu vaccine as you need to self-isolate.
What are the side effects of the flu jab?
The NHS states a “mild high temperature” and “slight muscle aches” are possible for a day or so after you have had your flu vaccination.
A sore arm is also a side effect of having the flu jab.
To ease the discomfort, the NHS recommends you:
- continue to move your arm regularly; do not let it get stiff
- take a painkiller, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen; some people, including pregnant women, should not take ibuprofen unless a doctor recommends it
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Do not give aspirin to children under 16.
You cannot catch the flu from the flu vaccine, as the virus is not active.
But if you think you have flu after receiving the vaccine, the NHS website explains: “If you have what you think is flu after vaccination, it may be that you have caught a flu-like virus that’s not really flu, or you may have caught flu before your flu vaccination had taken effect.”
In rare cases, allergic reactions can occur as a result of the flu vaccine.
Who is eligible for a flu jab?
The NHS website explains people who should have the flu vaccine include:
- adults 65 and over
- people with certain medical conditions (including children in at-risk groups from 6 months of age)
- pregnant women
- people living with someone who’s at high risk from coronavirus (on the NHS shielded patient list)
- children aged 2 and 3 on 31 August 2020
- children in primary school
- children in year 7 (secondary school)
- frontline health or social care workers
The flu jab is expected to be offered to 50 to 64-year-olds on the NHS this year, in addition to other groups considered high risk, and more information will be announced later this year.
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