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Seasonal Flu Jab, Protect Yourself With Flu Vaccine Every Year

Updated on November 26, 2016
tobusiness profile image

Jo has been an ITU nurse at the London North West NHS Trust for 14 years. She obtained her RN at University College London Hospital.

3D Section through Influenza Virus


Viruses have evolved over millions of years, they are the most common biological units on the planet. Understand them and protect yourself against the flu viru

Get the Flu Jab


Flu Vaccine Facts

  • Trimerosal preservative are only used in vials that requires multiple needle insertions. Each insertion increases the risk of microbes contamination.
  • Flu vaccine is available in single dose syringes that contain no trimerosal

  • Flu vaccine can be given as a nasal spray

  • Catching the flu can be unpleasant for most of us, but for some, it can lead to severe complications, hospitalisation and death

  • Globally, Seasonal flu accounts for about 3 to 5 million causes of severe illness annually and between 250,000 and 500,000 deaths.

  • Seasonal flu vaccine is given to millions of people in the UK each year. The specific strains of flu that are included may change from one year to the next but vaccines are still thoroughly tested and are safe

  • According to WHO, the flu vaccine is one of the safest in the world

  • The flu jab cannot give you the flu. A small number of people experience side effects such as aching muscles, however, this is simply the immune system responding to the vaccine

  • A person can carry and pass the virus on to others without having any symptoms themselves

  • Flu Vaccine should be taken every year
  • According to the WHO, Flu vaccine works, trivalent seasonal influenza vaccine generally gives 60-80 per cent protection against infection.

  • WHO cites clean water and vaccination as the two interventions that have the greatest impact on public health

  • Pregnant women can have the vaccine at any stage of their pregnancy. Having the vaccination is beneficial and helps protect the baby from flu over the first few months of life

Seasonal Flu Jab, protect Yourself with Flu Vaccine Every Year.

Autumn is here and despite the exceptionally good weather, the leaves are turning gold in readiness for the spectacular fall that also heralds the beginning of the flu season. Now is the time when seasonal flu viruses start the hunt for hospitable hosts in which to spend their winter vacation.

Yes, my friends, it is that time of the year again, so don't wait for the first flu symptoms, protect yourselves from the deeds of those dastardly influenza viruses.

Outbreaks of influenza can occur as early as October, most often, it peaks in January or later. Flu outbreaks can happen as late as May. Since immunity takes two weeks to develop in the body, it makes good sense to get the flu jab sooner rather than later.

As front line Health Care Workers (HCW) involved in direct patient care, nurses are encouraged to take up the offer of annual trivalent seasonal influenza vaccination that gives protection against two influenza A viruses, (an H1N1 and an H3N3) and an influenza B virus.

A yearly flu vaccine not only protects HCW, their colleagues, close friends, and family but most importantly, it can help save the lives of vulnerable patients in our care.

When the scheme offering the flu vaccine to HCW was first launched in the UK in 2001/02, many workers were reluctant to take up the offer. The reason was partly due to certain ambiguities that existed around the safety of the vaccine at the time.

The flu vaccine, we were told, contained certain substances that some experts insist are hazardous to health. Chicken eggs are used to cultivate the viruses used in the flu vaccine, some people are allergic to eggs, and this presents a real problem.

Thimerosal is a mercury-containing preservative used in some vaccine for its anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. Mercury is a known neurotoxin and precaution has been taken to remove thimerosal as a preservative in all childhood vaccine, except for inactivated influenza vaccine for children and adults in multi-dose vials. Currently, there are no acceptable alternative means of preserving the vaccine in multi-dose vials. However, the flu vaccine can be administered in single-dose syringes that are less likely to become contaminated.

Flu vaccine was also linked to an acute auto-immune disorder that affects the peripheral nerve system, causing muscle weakness and in some cases paralysis, known as Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS). Although the increased risk was small, approximately one additional case of GBS from 100,000 people given the swine flu vaccine, this caused much debate and resistance to the vaccine.

According to the CDC, " the most recent and rigorous scientific research does not support the argument that thimerosal-containing vaccine is harmful." If you have doubts do the research and always discuss the pros and cons with your health care provider.

Two years ago, in the winter of 2012, both my husband and myself was struck down by a particularly virulent strain of the influenza virus. I'm not sure what the particular strain of flu virus was, but it was relentless and very disabling. The flu symptoms were the worst that either of us had ever experienced. Consequently; last year, I made it a priority to get the flu shot.

Whether by coincidence or due to the effectiveness of the flu jab, we made it through 2013 without a single sniffle, you bet I'll be taking my jab again this year.

UK research has shown that the 2012 to 2013 influenza season has seen the highest recorded uptake of the influenza vaccine among HCW in England since the program began.

Studies also show that seasonal flu shots have reduced the risk of influenza viral infections. When HCW are vaccinated, the rates of flu-like illness, hospitalization, and mortality in vulnerable patients in health care settings is reduced.

Benefits gained when more people take up the offer and get a yearly flu jab is also reflected in the general community. The best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated annually. It is recommended that everyone above the age of 6 months is immunized against the flu virus.

According to the CDC, “Over the period of 30 years between 1976 and 2006, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from low of about 3,000 to a high of above 49,000 people. During the regular flu season, about 90 percent of deaths occurred in people 65 years and older.”

Factors that determine an individual's suitability for the flu vaccination or a particular vaccine are:

  • Age
  • Current or past health
  • Relevant allergies such as egg allergy in particular.

In such cases, doctors and health care providers will advise the best course of action.


What is a Virus

A virus is a small infectious microscopic organism consisting of a nucleic acid molecule in a protein coat. It is too small to be seen by light microscopy and can only replicate within the living cells of a host.

Viruses can infect all types of life forms, including animals, bacteria, plants and a domain of single-celled micro-organisms known as archaea.

Scientists are still debating whether or not viruses are live organism. Either way, we know that they can invade the cells of the body to reap havoc with our health if we do not take appropriate action to prevent the invasion.

Two scientists contributed to the discovery of the first virus, the tobacco mosaic virus (TMV). Dmitri Ivanovski in 1892 was the first to identify the infection in tobacco leaves. Ivanovski found that the new agent was small enough to pass through a porcelain filter able to trap and remove all known bacteria visible under a microscope.

Martinus Beijerinck was the first to show that the virus was an infectious soluble agent, a soluble living germ, able to migrate in aga gel, and was not a small type of bacteria, but a new disease causing particle. He was the first to call 'virus,' the incitant of the tobacco mosaic.

With the development of the electron microscope in the late 1930s, scientists were able to see the structure of the TMV for the first time.

There are 219 virus species known to be able to infect humans. The first to be discovered was the yellow fever virus in 1901 by Walter Reed. Around three or four new species of viruses are found each year.

The 1918-1919 Spanish flu pandemic was the deadliest in human history, referred to as 'the mother of all pandemic' the flu virus infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide, around one-third of the people occupying the planet at that time. The flu virus claimed the lives of between 20 million to 50 million people. Many of the deaths were as a result of secondary bacterial infection.

Germs can spread easily, use tissues, dispose of them carefully and wash hands thoroughly


Yearly Flu Shots

Do you get a flu shot every year?

See results

What is influenza or Flu?

Influenza is a contagious viral infection caused by influenza viruses. It typically infects the nose, throat and lungs. The spread of the condition mainly occurs by droplets. However, when an individual is infected with a virus, the infection can spread by a cough, sneeze or by talk. Droplets containing the flu virus can enter the mouths or noses of people nearby.

Flu can also be transmitted when someone touches a surface or object that is contaminated with the flu virus then touch their own nose, mouth or eyes. Influenza can cause mild to very severe illness that can lead to death in some cases.

Seasonal Flu Vaccine

There are two types of flu vaccine available, they both gives protection against seasonal flu:

  1. Inactivated flu vaccine, this vaccine is recommended for people who are 65 years and over, pregnant women, people with particular medical conditions, those living in residential homes, those caring for patients who are at risk from complications of the flu and HCW
  2. Nasal Flu Vaccine, This vaccine is administered as a spray. Nasal flu vaccine became available in the NHS from September 2014 to all children aged 2 to 4 years. Children 2 to 18 years who are considered at risk from the flu virus, such as those with long-term health conditions will also be offered annual nasal flu vaccine. The vaccine will be introduced gradually over a period.

Seasonal influenza can be extremely unpredictable, severity can vary widely from season to season depending on factors such as:

  • The type of flu virus

  • Flu vaccine available

  • When vaccine is available

  • The number of people who get vaccinated

  • Matching the vaccine to a particular flu virus

Flu Symptoms include:

  • Fever, not everyone with the flu will have a fever
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea, more common in children than in adults

Complications of Influenza can include:

  • Bacterial pneumonia
  • Ear Infections
  • Sinus infections
  • Dehydration
  • Exacerbation of chronic conditions, such as diabetes, asthma and Congestive heart failure

Cold and Flu Symptoms, Know the difference

High fever
Very rare
Comes on suddenly, lasts around 3-4 days, (100-102 degrees F)
Mild to moderate, hacking cough
Dry cough
Tiredness, bodyache, weakness and headache
Rare and mild
Common can be severe, comes on suddenly and can last for several weeks
Sneezing, runny/stuffy nose and sore throat
Chest discomfort
Mild to moderate
Common can be severe
The symptoms of a cold appears gradually, primarily affecting the nose and throat. There is no known cure for the common cold but over-the-counter medication can help to relieve some of the symptoms which can last around one week, but coughing can pe

Wash hands often with soap and water, carry and use alcohol wipes and hand gel. These can be useful when hand washing facilities are not available

Flu virus can be transferred to surfaces like door handles, hand rails, elevator buttons and many  commonly used objects and surfaces.
Flu virus can be transferred to surfaces like door handles, hand rails, elevator buttons and many commonly used objects and surfaces.

CDC urges, take 3 actions to fight the flu

  1. Take time to get a flu vaccine

  2. Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs

  3. Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them

Campaign Video against the vaccine


© 2014 Jo Alexis-Hagues


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    • tobusiness profile imageAUTHOR

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      4 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Genna, it's always a real treat to see you here. You write such supportive comments, thank you so much.

      I'm please to know that you're planning to get the jab. Building a strong immune system and protection with the vaccine is the best way to keep the virus at bay. I appreciate the visit, vote and share. Enjoy your Weekend and my very best.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Jo, your articles are always so meticulously researched, beautifully written and presented professionally, with just the right eye to detail that is compelling. Thank you for this reminder. I skipped mine last year, but will not do this again. A healthy immune system is key, but it still needs help. Have a wonderful weekend. Voted up and shared.

    • tobusiness profile imageAUTHOR

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      4 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      MsDora, thank you for reading this, even if you don't think you'll need. However, as we grow older we are more likely to succumb to the virus. I recently spoke to one of my relative in the Caribbean, both she and her husband moved back to the US a few years ago. They both caught the flu and was extremely ill, fortunately, they're recovering, but it was touch and go for a while. Boosting the immune system is always a good thing. There's an article in one of our news paper this morning which says, honeysuckle is the think to prevent seasonal flu. I'll look into that and probably write about it. Take care and my best always.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Jo, you gave great information we need to know about the vaccine. Thanks to God, I have never had a flu shot, nor reason to believe that I need it; I think it helps to boost the immune system all year round. Of course, different things happen to people at different stages of their lives, so I still need this information. Thanks!

    • tobusiness profile imageAUTHOR

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      4 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Hi Kim, so sorry you are not feeling well. It could be the flu, but it could also be a bad cold. To know for sure you'll need to see your doctor. The flu can be treated with antiviral medication, if it's really bad. In answer to your question, it depends on the particular strain of virus you have, your body can build up antibodies to the virus, but those little blighters are pretty tricky to pin down. They change and mutate, so you may not be protected for the season's strain of virus. The shots we are given provide protection against three strains of viruses, it's formulated annually, based on what's predicted to be prevalent for each year.

      Don't forget to eat lots of food rich in antioxidants to boost your immune system.

      ,Thank you for the comment and visit, always a pleasure to see you. Take care and my very best to you.

      Get well soon!

    • ocfireflies profile image


      4 years ago from North Carolina


      Can one get flu symptoms from reading an especially awesome hub? Smiles. You must have been psychic when you wrote and published this hub for I have been battling "something" for days. Based on your description, I am wondering if I have been and still am fighting off the flu. Feeling a little better today, but have been pretty darn sick the last several days. My question is if in fact one gets the flu before getting the shot, does that mean one still needs to get the vaccine? Anyway, as always, your ability to produce amazing hubs is illustrated once again.

      Thank You.


    • tobusiness profile imageAUTHOR

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      4 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Hi Vellur, thank you for stopping by, always nice to see you. So glad you've found the hub useful. More people are taking the vaccine, but there is still much room for improvement, when more people get the shots, When more people get the flu vaccine the damage done by the virus is lessened, so we all benefit. Take care and my best to you.

    • tobusiness profile imageAUTHOR

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      4 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Hi Frank, lovely to see you! People either forget about taking the flu vaccine or they simply need more information before they can make a decision. Some form of the flu can be mild but it can also be deadly, especially in people who are already vulnerable. We never know how bad it will be until it hits us. Take care and my best as always.

    • tobusiness profile imageAUTHOR

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      4 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Devika, it's never too late to get the vaccine, if in doubt discuss it with your doctor. I'm glad you've found this useful.Take care and my best to you

    • tobusiness profile imageAUTHOR

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      4 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Hi Jackie, I must apologize for the delay in responding to your comment, I read it first thing yesterday morning before work, but didn't get a chance to come back. Thank you stopping by and for the kind comment. It's always a pleasure to see you. A good strong immune system helps, but the vaccine is still your best bet for avoiding the flu. About the Ebola outbreak, watch this space. My best..

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      4 years ago from Dubai

      Informative and interesting hub. Flu vaccine does help prevent the onset of flu, great hub and explanation about the virus.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      4 years ago from Shelton

      tobusiness this is indeed a wake up call for those who do not get the shot great hub my friend :)

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I have never had one. Jo you certainly found a great topic and produced very helpful information. Voted up, interesting and useful.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      So much info; much research done for us here, thank you. I haven't had flu in ten years or more. I make it a rule to not eat in fast food places during flu season and green tea is an everyday drink for the anti oxidants. With Ebola here now I will be super cautious you can bet. ^+

    • tobusiness profile imageAUTHOR

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      4 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Hi Faith, your mom had the right idea, hand washing is simple but very effective. Until the scientists can come up with a universal vaccine, we must remember to get the yearly jabs. You hit the nail on the head, by protecting ourselves we are also protecting those close to us, especially the very young and the old. I'm so glad you found the hub useful.

      Take care and my best as always. I hope you're all well and enjoying the weekend.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      4 years ago from southern USA

      Thanks for the reminder, Jo! It is so important to protect ourselves from that nasty flu. I make sure I get one as I certainly do not want my precious grandchildren getting the flu from me. This is such an informative hub here. I learned a lot from your valuable information on germs and viruses, and the videos are all great and eye-opening.

      My sweet mother taught us at a very early age to always wash our hands thoroughly to prevent all kinds of illnesses and spreading germs.

      Voted up +++ tweeting and pinning

      Blessings always

    • tobusiness profile imageAUTHOR

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      4 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Hello Shraddachawla, now is indeed the time to get the vaccine. The experts are predicting that we may have a tough time this winter, based on flu activity in the Southern hemisphere.

      Thank you for reading my hubs, always appreciated. Take care and have a lovely weekend, my best to you.

    • tobusiness profile imageAUTHOR

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      4 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Oh drat! and double drat, those gremlins strikes again. :)

      Long or short comments, it's always good to see you.

      Bev is a saint for allowing you to do so much, even my dog slams the PC down when I spend too long on it.

      My best to you Bev and Jazz. Have a wonderful weekend.

    • tobusiness profile imageAUTHOR

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      4 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Hi Ruby, there were so many scare stories about the vaccine, many people were put off, very reluctant to take the shots, but we must balance the risks and benefits of taking the vaccine. After our close encounter with the virus a couple of years ago I'm taking no chances. Good for you for getting the annual shots, well done. Always a pleasure, have a lovely weekend , my best..

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      What a comprehensive piece of information ! A flu vaccine is actually the need of this hour. Perfect Jo ! Your Hubs are always filled with genuine and useful information. Thanks for sharing.

      Voted Up !

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I left a long comment and it Bev is calling.....great information as always, Jo...thank you!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Jo, this is a perfect time to highlight the need to get the flu injection. I will be getting mine soon. I haven't had the flu once since I started getting the shot. Your hub is understandable and written well. Thank you for sharing. It looks like you've done a lot of research. Tweeted..


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