'The worst cold ever?': Sheffielders warned about weaker immune systems as flu season sets in
Sheffielders have been warned by doctors that immune systems will be weaker against flu this year due to people self-isolating last winter.
With lots of people complaining on social media about the ‘worst cold ever’, questions were raised about whether a particularly nasty strain of flu is around this autumn and winter.
However, medical professionals have confirmed that rather than being one especially bad strain, there are a number going around and the flu people are experiencing feels worse as we are not as able to cope with it.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many people stayed inside or wore masks last flu season. This led to far fewer infections of, or exposures to, flu and means our immune systems are not as used to dealing with variations of the virus as they normally would be.
In a bid to combat the flu – which can be fatal, especially when combined with Covid – doctors are urging people to take extra care to ensure they are vaccinated if they are eligible.
Dr Anthony Gore, GP and clinical director at NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We’re expecting the flu season to be worse than usual this year. The flu vaccine is the best protection for you and those around you. It’s available for free to the people most at risk from flu.
“It is safe to have both the flu and covid vaccinations around the same time so please don’t put off having one or the other, you need both. People who are eligible for the flu vaccination will be contacted by their GP when it is time to have it, please take up this offer.”
UK Health Security Agency chief executive Dr Jenny Harries added that the vaccine being offered this winter season is to protect against four of the strains of flu going round.
She said: “We’ve got a pretty good array in our toolbox to try and hit whichever one becomes dominant but it could be more than one this year, and people’s immunity will be lower.
“So I think the real trick here is to get vaccinated – in both Covid and flu – but obviously to continue to do those good hygiene behaviours that we’ve been practising all through Covid.”