How effective is flu vaccine?

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Flu and COVID-19 have made autumn tough to navigate for health officials, who have to juggle case surges of both diseases. The reality of the late seasons may mean both viruses compete for beds, straining already thin NHS resources. But taking the annual flu jab could reduce the risks and lighten the burden, and scientists synthesise vaccines to suit new strains every year.

How effective is the flu vaccine?

Flu vaccines give people the best annual protection possible against the seasonal virus.

Scientists create vaccines once they have isolated the most prominent strain, which immediately makes it most effective in preventing illness.

But there is a caveat, as the many possible strains make it tough to guarantee protection, so rates vary.

According to BBC Reality Check, the annual jab prevents 30 to 60 percent of people on average.

The remaining 70 to 40 percent of people could still contract the flu but experience a milder and shorter illness.

The NHS adds the vaccine can stop people from transmitting the virus to other, more vulnerable groups.

Once administered, the jab takes 10 days to two weeks to take full effect.

The following groups should ensure they get a flu vaccine:

  • People aged 50 and over (including anyone turning 50 by March 31 2021)
  • People with select health conditions
  • Pregnant people
  • People in long-term residential care
  • Carers
  • People who live with high-risk groups
  • Front-line health and social care workers

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Some people who receive the jab may find they experience some side-effects.

Most of these will end up mild and short-lived, and include:

  • A raised temperatures
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Sore arm where the needle went in

Can the flu vaccine give you the flu?

The concept of contracting the flu via the vaccine is built on misinformation, as scientists use dead viruses.

These dead viruses cannot multiply and cause infection, but still, help develop immunity.

Anyone who falls ill after having the vaccine may have something else or contracted the flu before the jab has had the desired effect.

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