Seasonal Influenza (also known as flu) is a common, contagious disease caused by a virus. Flu can lead to serious health conditions such as pneumonia and bacterial infections. The best way to protect yourself is to have a flu vaccine. These are offered in the surgery from mid-September every year for those who are 65 years of age or over, are pregnant, a carer or suffer from one of the following chronic medical conditions:
- Chronic heart disease
- Chronic respiratory disease such as asthma requiring regular inhaled steroids, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic liver disease
- Chronic neurological disease such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease or learning disability
- Immunosuppression due to diseases such as HIV/AIDS or treatment such as cancer treatment
- Asplenia or dysfunction of the spleen
- Morbidly obese adults – defined as those with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or above. To calculate your BMI please use this link http://www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk/LiveWell/BMICalculator/
If you care for someone who is elderly or disabled, or someone whose health and/or welfare may be at risk if you fall ill, speak to the surgery about having a flu vaccine. Even if you don’t live with the person that you care for, or receive money for caring for them, you may still be eligibe for a free vaccine.
All nurses and carers working in residential and care homes will be eligible to receive their flu vaccination from the Community Pharmacy NHS Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Service or from the surgery if you are in one of the eligible clinical risk groups highlighted above.
I’m not sure about the evidence
It’s true that, compared with other vaccines for other diseases, the flu vaccine is not as effective. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. A recent meta-analysis found the flu jab protects, on average, 59% of recipients from developing flu. More research is being done to find a better vaccine for flu, but for now the vaccine is the best available way to protect yourself and others.
It protects around 6 in 10 people.
I react badly to the flu jab
It’s better than getting flu. The flu vaccine cannot give you flu. However, as it works by stimulating your body’s immune system you may have some mild flu-like symptoms for a day or two afterwards. This will be brief and you cannot pass these symptoms on. Flu itself can leave you completely washed out and unable to get out of bed for day
Children’s Flu Programme
All primary school aged children will be offered the flu vaccine through the school nursing service. This includes children from Reception to Year 6. Your child’s school will contact you to provide you with more information and to let you know when the clinics are scheduled.
The pre-school flu programme for 2 and 3 year olds will be offered from the surgery.
The children’s flu vaccine is in the form of a single spray squirted up each nostril. It is quick and painless and is absorbed very quickly. It will still work even if, after the vaccination, your child develops a runny nose, sneezes or blows their nose.