In the news: the flu vaccine

Each year, flu vaccinations are offered by the NHS in order to protect those vulnerable to complications caused by the illness. This year, BBC News has reported that the vaccination will be offered to children of two to four years via a nasal spray, after having previously been restricted to three-year-olds.

According to the NHS, if a child has a long-term health condition requiring regular medication such as asthma, and is over six months old, they should receive the vaccine in order to prevent them from contracting the flu, which can make their existing condition worse. The vaccine is also currently offered to pregnant women, those aged 65 or over, and people who have a long-term health condition, as they are considered to be at risk of further complications caused by the flu.

The flu is contractible throughout the year, but is particularly common during the winter months. Symptoms can include headaches, a sudden high temperature, tiredness, chills, a runny nose, sneezing, aches and pains as well as a sore throat and, for some, a loss of appetite.

BBC News highlighted the importance of those who are considered to be at risk from complications from the flu receiving the vaccine, as 904 people were taken to intensive care after having contracted it last winter. As the flu virus continually changes, a new vaccine is created each year in order to maintain protection against it.

By way of preventing the virus from spreading, the NHS also explains how maintaining good hygiene is necessary. This might include ensuring regular hand washing, cleaning any equipment such as a phone or keyboard, as well as clearing up used tissues as soon as possible. The flu is spread by fluid in coughs and sneezes, which can be transferred through the air, as well as on surfaces.

For more information about the flu and the vaccine, the NHS provides downloadable resources and posters, found here.

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