There’s been a lot of talk about viruses and vaccines over the past year and a half, hasn’t there? The world went into lockdown as it waited for the development of the coronavirus vaccine, and that’s because vaccines save lives. This is as true of all the children’s immunisations against everything from measles to polio, to those given annually, such as the flu vaccine.
Last year, the number of cases of flu was significantly lower than normal. This year, however, it’s thought that more people are likely to get it. That’s because lockdown restrictions mean there has been less exposure to the flu, so fewer people will have immunity. It’s even possible to get both COVID-19 and flu at the same time, and the combination of respiratory illnesses means you are more likely to be seriously unwell.
Lots of us confuse a cold and flu – both are caused by viruses. Flu tends to be more severe than a cold, with symptoms which come on relatively quickly. They include fatigue, fever, aches and pains, loss of appetite, a sore throat, dry cough (though sneezing is less common) and can also lead to abdominal pain and nausea. It can make some people seriously unwell with complications, such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and may require hospital admission. Each year, thousands of people pass away from flu and its complications.
Flu is spread by droplets – someone infected coughs, sneezes, talks or breathes out droplets containing the virus, which you then breathe in. It is also spread by touch, by touching a surface with the virus on it, and then touching your own mouth or nose. Good hand hygiene, coughing and sneezing into a tissue before discarding it and washing your hands, and staying at home if you have a fever will all help prevent the spread of flu.
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