'Be a Flu Fighter’ is the message of two new videos launched this week by NHS Western Isles aimed at encouraging island residents and Western Isles health staff to take up their free flu jab.

Entitled ‘Think You Know Flu?’ and ‘Flu Vaccination, have you had yours?’, the promotional films feature Western Isles health staff from across the island chain, as well as members of the public and representatives from the local Maritime & Coastguard Agency; Highlands and Islands Fire Brigade; the Scottish Ambulance Service; Hebridean Men’s Cancer Support Group, and pupils from the Stornoway Primary’s GM2 class.

‘Think You Know Flu?’ raises awareness of the importance around flu and its possible complications; while ‘Flu Vaccination, have you had yours?’ highlights the importance for those most at risk to receive their vaccination.

Both videos also explore common myths and facts surrounding the flu vaccine.

NHS Western Isles Director of Public Health, Dr Maggie Watts, said: “Flu can cause severe health complications and the best way to protect yourself and help prevent spread of the virus is to get vaccinated.

“It only take a few minutes and even if you were immunised against flu last winter it is important to receive the vaccine again, as the viruses change each season.”

Any strain of flu can be very dangerous for people who are more vulnerable to it, which is why groups eligible for flu vaccination are urged to get the free flu vaccine as soon as possible as the best available protection against this unpredictable virus.

The flu vaccine is available from October 1st for everyone aged 65 years and over, pregnant women, everyone with serious health conditions, and all health and social care workers.

It is also offered to all primary school children, as well as children aged 2-5 years who are not yet in primary school.

NHSWI Flu videos can be viewed online via Vimeo at:

Think You Know Flu? – https://vimeo.com/292679729/5f93612823

Flu Vaccination, have you had yours? – https://vimeo.com/292695596/393969a00e

Flu symptoms come on quickly, usually include fever and aching muscles; make you feel too unwell to continue your usual activity.

Cold symptoms come on gradually; mainly affect nose and throat; are fairly mild so you can still get around and you are usually well enough to go to work.

Main Flu Symptoms – flu can give any of the following symptoms: sudden fever (temp 38C or above); dry chesty cough; headache; tiredness and weakness; chills; aching muscles; limb or joint pain; diarrhoea, nausea, and vomiting; sore throat; runny or blocked nose; sneezing; loss of appetite; difficulty sleeping.

Onset of Symptoms – the time from when a person is exposed and infected with flu to when symptoms begin is about two days, but can range from about one to four days

Period of Contagiousness – people with flu are most contagious in the first three to four days after their illness begins. Some otherwise healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick. Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others with flu viruses for an even longer time.

What To Do – there is usually no need to see your GP if you have flu-like symptoms. The best remedy is to rest at home, keep warm and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower a high temperature and relieve aches; and stay off work or school until feeling better, for most people this will take about a week.

When to See your GPconsider visiting your GP if you are 65 years or over; you’re pregnant; you have a long-term medical condition; you have a weakened immune system; you develop chest pain, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing or start coughing up blood; your symptoms are getting worse over time or haven’t improved after a week.