Sneezing woman

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NHS bosses are warning we needs to be braced for a foul flu season. They cite the expertise of Australia and New Zealand, which have simply gone by way of their winters.

What occurs there, they are saying, tends to be a great pointer to how flu spreads within the UK.

How dangerous has it been in Australia and New Zealand?

They’ve definitely had their worst flu season for quite a lot of years. Just like the UK, the previous few winters have seen fairly low ranges of flu circulating.

However this winter it has been totally different. Figures as much as the tip of August – not even the tip of their winter – counsel there was practically double the variety of instances of flu than the typical over the previous 5 winters.

Studies have emerged of hospitals struggling, which is why NHS England chief govt Simon Stevens raised the alarm in a speech on Tuesday.

Final yr, the NHS went by way of its worst winter in a technology. And already hospital bosses have warned this winter may very well be worse given lengthy ready occasions and mattress shortages over the summer season.

Mr Stevens is worried flu might tip the well being service over the sting in addition to posing a menace to susceptible teams, such because the aged.

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Is the UK assured to be hit?

Each winter there are a number of strains circulating. However one usually turns into dominant. In Australia and New Zealand that was the H3N2 pressure. Will the identical occur right here?

It isn’t a given – and there is definitely some debate about how intently our winters match the sample elsewhere.

But when it does, the excellent news is that the early indications are that the vaccine that has been produced this yr is fairly efficient towards that pressure.

That is not all the time the case. Final yr the vaccine was much less efficient among the many aged than different teams.

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How do I get the vaccine?

You may get the flu jab free on the NHS if you’re aged over 65, pregnant or have an underlying well being situation which places you prone to critical problems from flu.

Youngsters aged six months to 2 years are additionally entitled to a free flu jab.

A flu nasal spray is offered free to three-year-olds and a few kids at main faculty.

Entrance-line well being and social care employees are additionally eligible to obtain the flu vaccine.

GP surgical procedures will be capable to give the jab and a few native pharmacies might be able to as nicely.

Is there a manner I can get the jab if I am not eligible?

If you wish to shield your self towards flu and you are not in one of many teams above, you should purchase the flu jab from excessive avenue pharmacies.

Only a few individuals are unable to have the jab, however it’s best to keep away from it when you have had a critical allergic response to it earlier than.

If I had the flu jab final yr, do I want it once more?

Flu strains typically change and so safety given by the flu vaccine steadily decreases over time.

That is why new flu jabs are produced every year and why susceptible adults and youngsters are suggested to have it yearly too.