Flu (influenza) Vaccination
Flu is a highly infectious illness that spreads rapidly through the coughs and sneezes of people who are carrying the virus.
Flu symptoms can hit quite suddenly and severely. They usually include fever, chills, headaches and aching muscles. You can often get a cough and sore throat. Because flu is caused by a virus and not bacteria, antibiotics won’t treat it.
Anyone can get flu, but it can be more serious for:
- People aged 65 or over
- People of any age (including children over six months old) with a serious medical condition
If you are in one of these two groups, you’re more vulnerable to the effects of flu (even if you’re fit and healthy) and could develop more serious illnesses, such as bronchitis and pneumonia, which could result in hospitalisation.
Flu can also make existing medical condition worse.
The best time of the year to get a flu vaccination (jab) is in the autumn. It’s free for those in the “at risk” groups and it’s effective against the latest flu virus strains. If you do not fall in to the at risk groups flu vaccines are available from many major pharmacies for a charge, ask at reception for more information.
Even if you’ve already had a flu jab in previous years, you need another one this year, this is because the viruses that cause flu are always changing.
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 or chest complaint, including asthma
- Serious kidney disease
- Lowered immunity due to disease or treatment such as steroid medication or cancer treatment
- If you have ever had a stroke
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 or practice nurse.
Who shouldn’t have it?
You should not be given the flu vaccination if you have
- A serious allergy to hens’ eggs
- Had a serious reaction to a flu vaccination before.
Not all the seasonal flu vaccines available are suitable for children under five years of age. Please make sure that you discuss this with your GP beforehand.
For further information visit www.nhs.uk/Livewell/winterhealth/
Pneumococcal Vaccination (Pneumonia Vaccination)
Pneumococcal vaccination is a method of preventing a specific type of lung infection (pneumonia) that is caused by Pneumococcus bacterium.
Pneumonia is a bacterial infection in the lungs it is a common complication from the flu. In addition to a flu vaccination every Autumn it’s a good idea to get a once-in-a-lifetime pneumococcal vaccine.
Who should consider pneumococcal vaccination? Pneumococcal vaccination should be considered by people in the following groups:
- Adults 65 years of age and older.
- Persons over 2 years of age with chronic heart or lung disorders including congestive heart failure, diabetes mellitus, chronic liver disease, alcoholism, spinal fluid leaks, cardiomyopathy, chronic bronchitis or emphysema (COPD) or emphysema.
- Persons over 2 years of age with spleen dysfunction (such as sickle cell disease) or lack of spleen function (asplenia), blood malignancy (leukemias), multiple myeloma, kidney failure, organ transplantation or immunosuppressive conditions, including HIV infection.
Most people only need one vaccination to protect them for the rest of their lives.