Cowbridge and Vale Medical Practice

Flu vaccination

If you are over 65, pregnant or eligible due to an existing condition, please ring the surgery for an appointment. At this time if appropriate you may be offered a pneumonia and or shingles vaccination. This will be confirmed to you by the reception staff when you check in. For more information on influenza see below

Complications of Flu

In a small proportion of cases serious complications can follow flu. The most common complication is a secondary infection with bacteria or viruses causing pneumonia which can be fatal. Other complications include inflammation of the heart muscle or the brain. Influenza can also aggravate underlying chronic disease. Studies have shown that following epidemics of influenza caused by the type A strains of the virus, deaths from all registered causes can increase.


There are two main types of flu virus responsible for human epidemics - the A and B types. It is type A which is more likely to change in the way described (drift) and is the usual cause of epidemics. If the number of flu cases in a population reaches 400/100,000 this is regarded as an epidemic. Influenza type A tends to cause more severe infections than influenza type B.

A pandemic is caused by a major change or " shift" in the type A virus. It is defined as when influenza affects a high proportion of the global population. Pandemics of the last century occurred in 1918, 1957 and 1968. The ( Spanish) pandemic of 1918 had a dramatic effect on the world's population in that at least 20 million people died worldwide. In England and Wales alone it was responsible for 200,000 deaths. The impact on death rates was so severe that it decreased average life expectancy by 10 years.

Flu is spread from person to person by infected droplets, which are secreted from the respiratory tract of an infected person. These infected droplets are dispersed by coughing, sneezing or talking. A single infected person can transmit virus to a large number of susceptible individuals. Humans are the main sources of influenza infection but it is known that horses, pigs and birds can harbour and spread the virus to man. For example, the Hong Kong flu of 1997 originated in chickens.

Treatment of Flu

Antiviral medicines are available on prescription and they reduce the severity and duration of the illness. Generally these drugs should be taken within the first 48 hrs of onset of the symptoms of flu.