Thrive’s Lead Nurse JO THOMPSON tells us why Covid-19 makes getting a flu vaccine more important, and explains how Thrive is offering this service to people and organisations in the UK.
Do you know if it will be a good or bad winter for flu? Well we always prepare for the worst and hope for the best! About 5-10% of the UK population can suffer from flu between November and March. But generally, the WHO will look at what's happening in the southern hemisphere in order to guess what will happen in the northern hemisphere. And I think the south hasn't been too bad this year, so we hope it won't be too bad in the north either. Let’s hope for a colder winter than recent ones, because it’s better at killing the virus off.
Do you think numbers might be fewer this year because of the socially-distanced way in which we’re living? Potentially, yes. Face coverings, washing hands, social distancing – all these can reduce the risk of flu. But there is still a risk, and so it's a case of wait and see.
And does Covid-19 make it more important for people to get a flu vaccine? Yes, definitely. The signs and symptoms of Covid-19 are very similar to the signs and symptoms of flu. And so if someone has had the flu vaccine, then if they do develop symptoms, they know it's more likely to be Covid-19. And so the fewer cases of flu we have, the easier it becomes to diagnose and treat Covid-19.
Who should get the vaccine? We can all catch flu and the most effective way to prevent it is vaccination. Anyone can have the vaccine who doesn’t have a serious allergic reaction to egg products or a previous dose of the influenza vaccine. If you have a chronic health disease or you’re over the age of 60, you’re especially encouraged to have it.
Thrive is offering the vaccine this year – what’s the advantage of having it with us rather than through a GP? If people get it through their GP then they might need to take time off work to go, and they might come into contact with others who are unwell when they are there. But with Thrive, we can go into your place of work and vaccinate a group of people at once. And so it’s quicker and reduces risk. It also helps an organisation reduce work absences due to sickness.