Words in the News

flu jab

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Written by Liz Potter

With winter fast approaching in the UK, the annual offer of a flu jab is being made to vulnerable groups such as children, pregnant women, people with long-term health problems, and older people. NHS leaders have also been urging workers in the health service to have the vaccination, to lower both the risk of being infected themselves and that of unwittingly spreading the virus to their patients. Fearing a winter crisis in the hard-pressed health service, bosses are writing to all 1.4 million NHS employees telling them they must have the jab or tell their employers why they are refusing.

Flu is of course a potentially serious and sometimes fatal disease, and the spectre that is raised by its arrival every winter is that of the Spanish flu pandemic, which killed tens of millions just under a century ago. An app launched last month will help researchers track people’s movements and interactions and, it is hoped, help predict how a new pandemic could spread.



Flu is short for ‘influenza’, from the Italian word for ‘influence’, while jab is used in British English to refer to a shot of medicine or vaccine given through a needle. Shot is the usual American term, while the more formal vaccination is used in both varieties.

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Liz Potter

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