It is that time of year again – people are getting invited to have their yearly flu jab. But, understandably, many do not take up the offer. Why not? Well I have found that much of this is down to miscommunication and information that is not correct being handed out and then shared.
I haven’t actually had mine yet as I just have not had the chance but will be getting it done as soon as possible. Ste has already has his and tyhe boys will be getting the nasal spray version this month in school. I thought today I would share some frequently asked questions and try and help answer them so people understand the vaccine and why it is so important, especially when you are chronically ill or in opne of the hother high risk groups.
Who is in these ‘high risk’ groups?
- People aged 65 and over
- Pregnant women
- Children and adults with underlying health conditions
- Children and adults with weakened immune systems
If I am in a high risk group, what could the complications be?
The risk of you developing potentially serious complications of flu (such as pneumonia or bronchitis) is much higher if you are in the high risk group. These can lead to very serious illness or even death.
Who should get which flu vaccine?
In 2018, three types of vaccine are being offered
- a live, quadrivalent flu vaccine (protects against four types of flu strain) which is given as a nasal spray to children. Children aged 2 and 3 will be given this as well as those in school years 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and reception
- a quadrivalent injected vaccine. Given to adults aged 18 to 65 who are at increased risk from flu because of a long-term health condition and for children 6 months and above in an eligible group who cannot receive the live vaccine. This is not a live vaccine. Carers may also be offered the vaccine as they are in close contact with those who are chronically ill.
- an adjuvanted trivalent injected vaccine. This is for people aged 65 and over. More effective in this age group
Where can I get a flu jab?
Your GP should invite you to one of their flu jab clinics. You can also attend certain chemists who offer this service. If you are pregnant you should speak to your midwife.
Are there any side effects?
Serious reactions are very rare but some people can be allergic to the vaccination. More commonly people may have a mild fever and achy muscles for a couple of days post vaccination. This is due to your immune system responding and is not the flu itself. The site of injection may be red and sore.
The nasal spray side effects include a blocked or runny nose, headache, tiredness and some loss of appetite.
Who shouldn’t get the flu vaccine?
- People who have had a serious allergic reaction to a flu vaccine previously
- Egg allergy – people may be more susceptible to a reaction wif they have an egg allergy and this should be discussed with your GP
- If you are poorly with a fever (temperature over 38 degrees celcius) you should delay getting your vaccine until you are better. There is no need to delay your vaccine for a mild illness
- You can have the vaccine if you are antibiotics provided you do not have a fever
How long will the vaccine protect me for?
The flu vaccine will protect you for the upcoming flu season. It is offered yearly as different strains of flu may be more prevalent in different years so the vaccine is tailored to account for that.
Can the flu vaccine cause flu?
No! The vaccine is not a live one so can not cause flu. You may get mild symptoms for a couple of days following the injection. As the vaccine takes about 10-14 days to become effective, if you do get flu it is just generally bad luck and you would have caught it anyway.
The nasal spray given to children is a live vaccine but only contains a weakened version of the virus to prevent children developing it.
Why do health workers get the flu vaccine?
This is recommended as they are in contact with people who are severely ill, chronically ill and have weakened immune systems daily. Carers may also be eligible for the same reason. You can also pay privately for the jab, many chemists over this service.
I did a poll over on my Facebook page, asking people if they would be taking up the offer of the flu vaccine this year.
There were also some people comment with a reason for their choice and I have collated a few below. It was interesting to see that a couple of people have been told by their GP or other medical professionals involved in their care not to have it – the official NHS advice is that unless you are severely allergic, you should.
I also think there are many people who don’t know the difference between a bad cold and the flu. The flu is a lot different and so much more dangerous. As us spoonies have a weakened immune system, a cold can hit us badly and we will be possibly be more poorly than our family and friends and take longer to recover. It still doesn’t mean we have the flu.
Flu tends to appear a lot quicker than a cold which will come on gradually. A cold will also mainly affect the nose and throat, the flu will affect the whole body. The NHS have produced this video to help explain the differences –
I hope this post will have helped with common fears and misconceptions about the flu jab. Being chronically ill for so long I take a keen interest in the medical world and enjoy doing research! Please feel free to contact me with any questions you might have, and comment below with your experiences. It is great for people to see others experiences as well as my own. And I will make sure I get round to having my jab next week and report back!