At risk of getting seasonal flu? Then get your flu jab soon
There’s to be no national advertisement campaign to persuade people to get themselves vaccinated against seasonal flu. This year it’s up to you and your doctor’s surgery to make sure you’re not at risk from what can for some people become a serious illness - especially triggering complications in existing conditions.
Last year six hundred and two people died in the UK from seasonal flu – and the take up for vaccinations was lower than expected. This year NHS Wiltshire and the county’s GPs have launched a “Flu vaccination passport” to remind those most at risk to get their free protection against this highly infectious illness.
There’s a passport for each of three main ‘at risk’ categories: people over sixty-five, people with a serious medical condition and pregnant women.
Maggie Rae, Wiltshire’s director of public health and public protection: “If someone is at risk of complications from flu, it’s really important they have their annual flu jab…We know how busy people are – the passport will help act as a reminder to someone to call their GP and arrange to receive this valuable protection against flu.”
Marlborough Medical Practice’s flu jab sessions for October have all been booked up. They’re arranging more sessions for November – so call soon to book in.
Useful information about flu from Wiltshire NHS:
Get the jab
The best time of the year to get a flu vaccination is now - the autumn. It's free and it's effective against the latest flu virus strains.
Even if someone has already had a flu jab in previous years, they need another one this year to keep immunity up to date. The flu jab may only protect someone for a year, because the viruses that cause flu are always changing. This year's seasonal flu vaccination also includes a vaccine to protect against swine flu.
See your GP about the flu jab if you're 65 or over, or if you have any of the following problems (however old you are):
• a serious heart complaint
• a chest complaint or breathing difficulties, including asthma, bronchitis and emphysema
• serious kidney disease
• lowered immunity due to disease or treatment such as steroid medication or cancer treatment
• if you have a problem with your spleen or you have had your spleen removed
• if you have ever had a stoke
Your GP may advise you to have a flu jab if you have serious liver disease, multiple sclerosis (MS) or some other diseases of the nervous system.
If you think you may need a flu vaccination, check with your GP, practice nurse or your local pharmacist. If a nurse visits you regularly, ask about getting your flu vaccination. Most GP surgeries arrange vaccination sessions in the autumn.
Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy should have the seasonal flu jab. That's because pregnant women are more prone to complications from flu that can cause serious illness for both mother and baby.
If you are pregnant and catch flu, talk to your GP urgently as you may need treatment with antiviral medicine.
The pneumo jab
When you see your GP for a seasonal flu jab, ask whether you also need the ‘pneumo jab’ to protect you against some forms of pneumococcal infection. It's available free on the NHS to everyone aged 65 or over, and for younger people with some serious medical conditions.
Kids and carers
If you're the parent of a child (over the age of six months) who has a long-term condition such as a serious respiratory or neurological condition, they should have a flu jab. Speak to your GP about your child having a flu vaccination. Your child's condition may get worse if they catch flu.
If you're the carer of an elderly or disabled person, make sure they've had their flu jab. As a carer, you could be eligible for a flu jab too. Ask your GP for advice, or go to Carers Direct for information about Flu jabs for carers.
How effective is it?
No vaccine is 100% effective, however, people who have had the flu jab are far less likely to get flu. If you do get flu despite having the jab, it will probably be milder than if you haven't been vaccinated.
The flu jab doesn't cause flu as it doesn't contain live viruses. However, you may experience side effects after having the jab, such as a temperature and aching muscles for a couple of days afterwards. Your arm may feel sore at the site where you were injected. More severe reactions are rare.
The flu vaccine only protects against flu, but not other illnesses caused by other viruses, such as the common cold.
Speak to your GP, practice nurse or pharmacist if you have any further questions.