A hot topic at the moment is the ‘flu’ (influenza) and the impact it has on people, their families and the workplace. Flu is a potentially life-threatening virus characterised by a sudden high fever, a dry cough, headache and muscle and joint pain. Sufferers feel extremely unwell and are usually unwell with symptoms for around two weeks.
The medical community and the World Health Organisation (WHO) agree that the flu vaccination is the single most effective way to protect yourself against the virus, but how much do you really know about the vaccination?
Here are 6 facts that might surprise you:
- There are actually 3 types of seasonal influenza viruses (A, B and C) but type C influenza cases occur less frequently than the others. That’s why only A and B influenza viruses are included in the seasonal vaccinations.
- It takes about two weeks to fully develop the immune response following flu vaccination
- Influenza viruses are constantly mutating (changing) so in order to remain protected you need to have an annual vaccination.
- There are two main types of vaccination: inactivated (given by injection) and live (given by nasal application). Healthcare teams determine which method is most suitable and effective for each patient.
- The UK government recommends having the vaccination in Autumn, well before any outbreaks of flu start. 
- The government offers free immunisation to vulnerable groups of people, such as young children, people with compromised health and those over 65. However, the NHS has reported that up to one-third of deaths from flu in 2009-10 and 2010-11 were in people considered healthy. 
Healthy hygiene to prevent flu
Because of the ease in which flu can spread, it is important to encourage employees to practice good hand hygiene. Infected droplets of mucus and saliva are easily passed from person to person such as via sneezing or coughing. In addition, these body fluids can contaminate surfaces such as desks and computers and ultimately be passed on via everyday contact.
But, as the evidence shows, the biggest investment people can make in their health is to get immunised and help stop the spread of flu.