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Swine Flu Vaccination Programme
Frequently Asked Questions
What is swine flu?
Swine flu is the common name given to a new strain of influenza (flu). It is
called swine flu because it is thought to have originated in pigs, but this is
Swine flu is caused by a virus which is a sort of germ which makes people ill.
Swine flu is different from ordinary flu because it’s a new flu virus that appears
in people and spreads very quickly from person to person. Because it’s a new
virus, everyone could be at risk of catching it. This includes healthy adults as
well as older people, young children and people with other illnesses.
How does the flu spread?
Flu germs are spread in coughs and sneezes. If you cough or sneeze into
your hand, germs can spread easily onto other surfaces like door handles and
telephones when you touch them.
If other people touch the same surfaces or breathe in the air after you’ve
coughed or sneezed then the germs can get into their bodies and give them
the flu. This is how all colds and flu are spread which is why it’s really
important to cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, throw
the tissue away and wash your hands. How do I know if I’ve got swine flu?
The symptoms of swine flu are very similar to the symptoms of normal flu.
If you have swine flu you will have a high temperature which is 38C (around
100F) or above. You will also have at least two of the following symptoms:
• cough; • sore throat; • runny nose; • severe tiredness; • loss of appetite; • muscle or joint aches and pains; and • headaches.
Some people may also have sickness (vomiting) or diarrhoea.
How is the swine flu infection diagnosed?
You can find out if you have swine flu by contacting the National Pandemic
Flu Service. To check if you have the symptoms, ring 0800 1 513 100
(textphone 0800 151 3200) or visit www.direct.gov.uk/pandemicflu
What is a swine flu vaccine?
The swine flu vaccine is given in two injections, which you need to have three
weeks apart. If you have both injections this will give you good protection
against swine flu. The vaccine helps your body to make antibodies that help to
fight the virus. Do I need a swine flu vaccine?
Certain groups of people are advised to have a swine flu jab because they are
thought to be at greater risk of catching the virus or becoming seriously ill. If
you are in one of these groups then it is recommended that you have the
If you usually have the seasonal flu vaccine you can have one of your swine
flu jabs at the same time. Who is the vaccine for?
When the vaccine becomes available, the first people that will be able to have
the vaccine are those whose health is most at risk. The following people will
be offered the swine flu vaccination.
• People aged between six months and up to 65 years that have an
ongoing health condition such as; asthma, chronic heart disease, chronic renal disease, illnesses of the nervous system and diabetes.
• People whose immune systems are not working properly due to
disease or treatment such as cancer treatment, HIV positive people and people who have had treatment with steroids for a prolonged amount of time.
• All pregnant women – from three months onwards.
• People who live with individuals whose immune systems are not
• People aged 65 years and over who have ongoing health conditions as
I am one of these people – where can I get my swine flu jab?
If you fit into one of these categories you will be invited to have the swine flu
vaccine by your GP practice.
If you are not currently registered with a GP practice then you can find your
nearest practice by ringing NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 or visiting www.nhs.uk Do I still need my seasonal flu jab?
Yes, if you usually have a seasonal flu jab you should still have this as well.
The seasonal flu jab does not protect against swine flu and swine flu jab does
not protect against seasonal flu. You can have both the seasonal flu jab and
swine flu jab at the same time. I do not have a medical condition, why have I been invited for a swine flu
If you live with someone whose immune system is not working properly
because of illness or any medical treatment they are having, you will be
invited to have the swine flu vaccine.
By having the swine flu vaccine you are helping to protect them by reducing
the chance of them catching swine flu. I’ve had swine flu - do I still need a swine flu jab?
Unless you have had tests you will not know if the flu-like illness you had was
definitely swine flu. If you have had a flu-like illness and have taken antiviral
medicine (Tamiflu or Relenza), you should still have a swine flu jab if you are
in one of the at risk groups mentioned earlier.
Is the swine flu vaccine safe?
Yes, the swine flu vaccine has been tested and been shown to protect you
against swine flu. You may get flu-like symptoms after your swine flu jab but
these will only last a couple of days. It is a good sign because it means you
have had a good response to the vaccine. Is it safe for pregnant women?
The vaccine is safe if you are pregnant. Tests done in the USA suggests that
there are no side effects when given to pregnant women and that it will offer
some protection to your new baby. What do I do if I have flu symptoms?
If you are not sure whether you have swine flu and you would like further
information ring the National Swine Flu Information Line on 0800 1 513
If you have flu symptoms stay at home and get plenty of rest and drink lots of
Ring the National Pandemic Flu Service on 0800 1 513100 i
f you are not
getting any better.
Calls to these numbers are free from a landline. Mobile phone charges may
vary depending on your network operator.
You can also go online and visit www.direct.gov.uk/pandemicflu Where can I find out more?
You can find out more about swine flu both locally and nationally by logging
on to the following websites:
NHS Direct – www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk
NHS Leeds – www.swinefluinfo.leeds.nhs.uk
Health Protection Agency – www.hpa.org.uk
Foreign and Commonwealth Office (for travel advice) - www.fco.gov.uk
World Health Organization - www.who.int
You can also ring NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.
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