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ASK THE DOC: Tell me more about flu jag

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Dr Laura Ryan, who is NHS 24’s medical director and has 20 years' experience as a doctor, answers readers’ questions in our column.

Q. I have an appointment for a flu vaccination. Can you give me bit more information on this and the effects?

A. The flu vaccine is safe and effective, and it gives the best protection against flu. It’s offered every year for free by the NHS to help protect people at risk of flu and its complications. The flu vaccine can’t give you flu, but it can stop you catching it.

The vaccine helps protect against the main types of flu viruses, but there is still a chance you might get flu after having the vaccine. If you do get flu after vaccination, it’s likely to be milder and not last as long.

Having the flu vaccine can also stop you spreading flu to other people who may be more at risk of complications and serious illness if they catch flu.

The vaccine takes around 10 days to work and should help protect you during this year’s flu season. You should get immunised every year because flu viruses change constantly, and your immunity reduces over time.

Like all medicines, the flu vaccine can cause side effects.

They’re usually mild and normally last only a day or two. It’s normal to experience side effects after a vaccine. It shows the vaccine is teaching your body’s immune system how to protect itself from the disease. But not everyone gets side effects.

Search ‘flu vaccine’ at NHS inform for more information.

Q. My mum has an ingrown toenail and it’s causing her some discomfort.

What should she do?

A. An ingrown toenail develops when the sides of the nail grow into the surrounding skin which becomes red, swollen and tender.

Other possible symptoms include pain if pressure is placed on the toe, inflammation of the skin at the end of the toe, a build-up of fluid around the toe, an overgrowth of skin around the affected toe, pus coming from the affected area.

To treat, keep your feet clean by washing regularly; cut toenails straight across to stop them digging into surrounding skin; gently push the skin away from the nail using a cotton bud; wear comfortable shoes that fit properly.

In certain instances, adults with an infected ingrown toenail can get advice and treatment directly from a pharmacy. If the pharmacist cannot treat you they may recommend you see your podiatrist or GP.

NHS inform has more information on how to manage ingrown toenails. See nhsinform.scot ‘ingrown toenails.’

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