Flu vaccination provides the best protection against an unpredictable virus which infects many people and can cause serious illness and death each year.
Who is eligible for the vaccine?
- people aged 65 years or over (including those becoming age 65 years by 31 March 2019)
- people aged from 6 months to less than 65 years of age with a serious medical condition such as:
chronic (long-term) respiratory disease, such as severe asthma, COPD or bronchitis
chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
chronic kidney disease at stage three, four or five
chronic liver disease
chronic neurological disease, such as Parkinson’s disease or motor neurone disease, or learning disability
or a weakened immune system due to disease (such as HIV/AIDS) or treatment (such as cancer treatment)
- people living in long-stay residential care homes or other long-stay care facilities
- people who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an older or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill
- health and social care staff, employed by a registered residential care/nursing home or registered domiciliary care provider, who are directly involved in the care of vulnerable patients/clients who are at increased risk from exposure to influenza. Vulnerable means those patients/clients in a clinical risk group for flu or who are aged 65 years and over; and
- health and care staff, employed by a voluntary managed hospice provider, who are directly involved in the care of vulnerable patients/clients who are at increased risk from exposure to influenza. For health and social care staff you will need to provide the surgery with proof of employment.
All pregnant women are recommended to receive the flu vaccine irrespective of their stage of pregnancy.
There is good evidence that pregnant women are at increased risk from complications if they contract flu. In addition, there is evidence that having flu during pregnancy may be associated with premature birth and smaller birth size and weight and that flu vaccination may reduce the likelihood of prematurity and smaller infant size at birth associated with an influenza infection during pregnancy. Furthermore, a number of studies shows that flu vaccination during pregnancy provides passive immunity against flu to infants in the first few months of life.
Patients with medical conditions
If you have a long-term health condition, even one that is well managed, you are eligible for the flu vaccination free of charge. It’s free because you need it.
Flu can make the effects of your existing condition worse and makes complications like pneumonia more likely.
If you have children don’t put off taking up their free flu vaccination. The nasal spray vaccination is quick, effective and painless. Children aged two and three years old will be able to have their vaccination at the surgery. School aged children from 4 to 9 years old will get their vaccination at school.
Flu can be a very unpleasant illness in children as they suffer the same symptoms as adults including fever, chills and aching muscles. The flu vaccination will help protect your child from flu and also reduce the chance of flu spreading to others.
What if I catch flu?
People with suspected flu who are not in the at-risks groups should:
- stay at home
- drink plenty of fluids while you are recovering
- seek advice from a pharmacist about the best remedy for your symptoms
- consider taking the appropriate dose of paracetamol/ibuprofen-based painkillers or cold remedies to lower your temperature and relieve symptoms
- avoid visiting the GP surgery and hospital where you may infect other more vulnerable people
- use community pharmacists as the first port of call for early symptoms