For only the fourth time in 25 years the composition of this season's flu vaccine remains the same
Nicky Broyd WebMD UK Health News
Dr Roger Henderson
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3rd October 2011 - From this week annual flu jabs will be given and people eligible for the jabs are being urged to make an appointment with their GP before people around them start to get flu. It takes five to 10 days for the vaccine to take effect.
New figures show people are more likely to get travel jabs before a holiday abroad than they are to be vaccinated against flu at home.
A ComRes poll of 1,754 people last month for the Department of Health says found 87% of people would get vaccinated against tropical diseases before a holiday, but only half of under 65s who were advised to get the seasonal flu jab took it up last year.
In a statement, National Director of Immunisation, Professor David Salisbury says: "It is important that people get vaccinated when they go travelling. However, it is just as important for people in at risk groups to get the flu jab. It is very important that people in these groups get vaccinated early in the flu season so they are protected before flu starts to circulate.
"About three-quarters of older people get their flu vaccine each year, but only around half of younger people in at risk groups get vaccinated. Seasonal flu is not the same as getting a cold - it can seriously affect your health."
This year?s seasonal flu vaccine will be effective against the latest strains of the flu virus. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has decided that for the 2011/2012 season the vaccine for the northern hemisphere should contain the same virus strains as last year: an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus; an A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2)-like virus; and a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus.
H1N1 is better known as swine flu.
It's only the fourth time in 25 years that the composition of the flu vaccine has remained the same from one season to the next. However, even if you had a flu vaccination last year the authorities advise you will still need another one this year because your immunity to the flu wanes over time. Researchers say a person's immunity drops by as much as 50% six to 12 months after vaccination.
Flu occurs most often in winter and usually peaks between December and March which is why autumn is the best time of year to get your flu jab.?
Those at highest risk are encouraged to have the jab, including, and for the second year running, all pregnant women. Unlike in America, children, unless they are in an at risk group, are not immunised.
Last winter people in at risk groups were 11 times more likely to die from seasonal flu than people with no underlying health problems. In the UK, according to the NHS, about 600 people a year die from complications of seasonal flu.