‘Deaths in care homes can be high both because of low vaccination rates and ease of spread in such communities,’ explains Professor John Oxford, an expert in virology at Queen Mary, University of London.Scientists have been looking at other ways to boost people’s immune response to the flu virus.But it appears to have performed poorly in Australia, possibly because the virus has mutated.‘In a good year we would expect a general effectiveness of 50 per cent, but we don’t know if we have reached that this year,’ says Professor Allen Cheng, director of the infection prevention unit at Alfred Health at Monash University in Melbourne.
Ideally you should have this before the end of December, when flu peaks (it takes about two weeks after the jab for antibodies to develop completely).
At-risk groups include anyone aged 65 and over; people living in long-stay residential care homes; carers and pregnant women.
Whatever your age, but particularly if you’re over 65, ‘people should be vaccinated, as it will provide some protection, even if isn’t complete’, adds Professor Cheng.‘The vaccine can still reduce your chance of getting flu by about 20 to 60 per cent — it varies: in some years it is higher, and in other years it is lower.
But there is some benefit.’And the elderly in care homes are particularly vulnerable to flu.
Well Pharmacy charges £9 to £14 (depending on the number of strains in the vaccine), Lloyds Pharmacy £10, Boots £12.99 and Tesco £9.
Older children who fall outside the NHS scheme can get the nasal spray vaccine from some pharmacies such as Well (£23 for those aged between two and 18; this may involve a second dose at least four weeks later for another £23) and the injection for those 12 and over for £9.
He suddenly passed away two days later from flu complications.
Ben was a tragic victim of one of the worst flu outbreaks on record in Australia, with the number of cases two-and-a-half times higher than last year.
There are also concerns about whether the flu vaccine we’ll be using in the coming weeks will actually work against this rapidly mutating virus. Flu viruses are shape-shifters, constantly changing the proteins on their surfaces — the parts of the virus that your immune system sees — so that they can escape detection.