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Keep you and your loved ones safe—get the flu jab

24 September 2018

Getting vaccinated is an act of responsibility to protect yourself and the ones you care about. Even if you had a flu shot last year, you still need to have another one this year.

Hospital medics know and advise that the flu vaccine changes every year. It has to in order to fight changing flu strains. Getting vaccinated is an act of responsibility to protect yourself and the ones you care about. Even if you had a flu shot last year, you still need to have another one this year.

While for the majority of the population, flu is not going to be more than an unpleasant episode in their lives, there are sections of our communities whose weakened immune systems, age, heart problems, those with underlying conditions, diabetics and pregnant women are at serious risk—and for whom catching flu could be life threatening.

There are many who are entitled to free vaccination and we cannot recommend strongly enough that they take up this offer. These include those who: 

  • are 65 years of age or over    
  • are pregnant  
  • have certain medical conditions  
  • are living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility  
  • receive a carer's allowance, or you are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill

Research clearly shows that pregnant women who are vaccinated are protecting not only themselves but also their baby for several months after birth. Young children and, in particular, those who are under 6 months are extremely vulnerable. Those who have the care of these young ones can and should protect themselves.

Vaccination goes hand in hand with preventative measures. These can be implemented by all of us—wash your hands regularly and wherever possible restrict your contact with anyone you know to be sick. If you are sick stay at home and avoid spreading germs at work and school.

Flu facts

Flu kills 

For the majority of people who catch it flu is unpleasant, but for some it can lead to chest infections, severe complications and death. Globally, seasonal flu accounts for about three to five million causes of severe illness annually and between 250,000 and 500,000 deaths.

The flu vaccine is safe

The risk of having a serious (anaphylactic) reaction to the seasonal flu vaccine is less than one in a million: much lower than the risk of getting seriously ill from having the flu itself. If you have had a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to a flu vaccine before, please talk to a clinician before getting vaccinated. If you have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to hens’ eggs, you should enquire about vaccines with a very low egg content and be vaccinated under clinical supervision.

The vaccine is one of the safest in the world

Seasonal flu vaccine is given to millions of people in the UK each year. The specific strains of flu that are included may change from one year to the next but vaccines are still thoroughly tested and are safe.

The flu jab can’t give you the flu

It is impossible to get flu from the having the flu jab because the vaccine doesn’t contain live viruses. A very small number of people experience side effects such as aching muscles, but this is simply the immune system responding to the vaccine.

The side effects of the vaccination aren’t bad

For the most part, seasonal flu vaccine side effects are mild or often non-existent. The most common side effect is soreness around the site of the injection and occasionally aching muscles. These symptoms are a lot less debilitating than having flu.

Health professionals need to protect patients

Vaccination isn’t just about keeping yourself safe, it’s about protecting your colleagues, your family and your patients. You can carry and pass the virus on to others without having any symptoms yourself, so even if you consider yourself healthy, you might be risking the lives of others.

You need the vaccine every year

If you were vaccinated last year you helped to fight the flu and took an extra step towards excellent patient care. Please do the same again this year. You won’t be protected against the new strains of circulating flu.

Vaccination works

The World Health Organization cites clean water and vaccination as the two interventions that have the greatest impact on public health—vaccination works. Trivalent seasonal influenza vaccines generally give 60–80% protection against infection.

Pregnant women can be vaccinated

Pregnant women can have the flu vaccination at any stage of their pregnancy. Having the vaccination when pregnant is beneficial and helps protect the baby from flu over the first few months of life.

Healthy diets won’t prevent flu

Your diet could well be helping to boost your immune system, but eating well will not protect you from flu. The best way to protect yourself, family and patients against flu is by getting the flu jab.

Hand washing is very important, but it won’t stop flu

It is vital to follow universal infection prevention procedures and wash your hands, but once flu has been passed on to your family, colleagues or your patients, clean hands won’t keep flu at bay. Book your flu jab as soon as possible, and encourage those around you to do the same.

Anyone can get the flu

One of the most common reasons for not getting vaccinated is “I’ve never had flu before”. There’s no such thing as natural immunity to influenza; with new strains circulating this year, it’s best to get vaccinated against flu.