How to book a flu jab? Plus symptoms, causes and differences to Covid

By Surena Chande

Flu season is upon us and with the supposed 'worst cold ever' going around, it's often better to be safe than sorry.

With much of the UK being stuck indoors during lockdowns over the past two years, and many of us avoiding close contact, it's likely that our immune systems aren't quite what they used to be.

Therefore, the government has recommended that people get their flu jabs soon after experts predicted 60,000 flu deaths this winter.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about how to book yours and how the flu symptoms differ from that of Covid-19.

READ MORE - Two Leeds care homes given damning food hygiene ratings

How do I book a flu jab and am I eligible for one?

The flu jab can be booked at a range of places including your GP surgery, a pharmacy offering the service, your midwifery service if you're pregnant or at a hospital appointment.

While certain demographics are able to get the flu vaccine for free and via their GP on the NHS, others will have to pay or use alternative routes to get theirs.

The best time to get the flu vaccine is at the start of autumn, before people tend to start getting it, but you can also get it later in the year.

According to the NHS website, the flu vaccine is given free to people who:

  • Are over the age of 50
  • Have certain health conditions (call your GP to deduce whether this includes any you may have)
  • Are pregnant
  • Are in long-stay residential care
  • Are the main carer for an older or disabled person who could be at risk if you get sick
  • Live with someone who is more likely to get infections (such as someone who has had cancer or is getting treatment for cancer)
  • Are frontline health or social care workers

If you fall under any of those categories, your first port of call should be calling up your GP surgery and seeing when they can refer you for an appointment for the flu vaccine.

Often, your GP surgery will send you a letter to let you know that you're eligible for the jab and will advise you on how to book your appointment.

If you are under 50, you can use this NHS tool to find local pharmacies offering the flu vaccine. There will be a charge for the service, but it does allow for peace of mind over the flu season.

Do I have the flu and what are the symptoms?

While the flu symptoms vary from person to person, the key symptoms include a sudden high temperature over 38 Celsius, body aches and a dry cough.

The full list is outlined by the NHS as having any or a mixture of the following:

  • Feeling tired or exhausted
  • A fever
  • A runny nose
  • A sore throat
  • Headaches
  • Trouble sleeping, either due to grogginess or your cough
  • Diarrhoea or stomach aches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling or being sick

Children with the flu can also be prone to earaches or a lack of energy.

The flu will often get better on its own, but it can leave some people seriously ill so be sure to keep an eye on how your symptoms change and how long you have been ill.

What is the flu?

While it is known as flu, its full name is Influenza. It is a contagious respiratory illness that affects the nose, throat and, at times, the lungs.

It tends to be more prevalent in the colder months and flu season tends to begin in autumn.

How is the flu different to Covid-19?

With Covid-19 becoming a part of our lives in the past few years, many people have been left feeling concerned about whether their cold or flu is actually the viral disease.

This is also due to many people encountering far milder side-effects of Covid-19, and describing it to being similar to that of a 'bad cold'.

The symptoms are very similar, but the NHS recommends taking a PCR test and staying at home if you have any of the following flu-like symptoms:

  • A fever or temperature (particularly if it is 38 Celsius and above)
  • A change in smell or taste
  • A continuous cough

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