should i have a flu jab

Whilst the flu can be little more than an unpleasant illness for some, others can be much more affected by it.  So, should you have a flu jab?

 

The flu is an unpredictable virus which can cause severe illness in vulnerable people, and even death in certain cases.

The NHS suggest that vulnerable people should have a flu jab every year.  This is offered free of charge to qualifying individuals.  You are entitled to this if you:

  • are 65 or over
  • are pregnant
  • live in a care home or similar facility
  • receive a carer’s allowance or are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person
  • have an existing medical condition, including:
    • a long-term respiratory disease
    • heart disease
    • liver disease
    • kidney disease
    • neurological conditions
    • diabetes
    • problems with your spleen
    • a weakened immune system
    • a high BMI (40 or above)

This is not an exhaustive list; your GP can judge eligibility on a case-by-case basis.  However, if your GP believes a flu diagnosis makes you at-risk, a flu jab should always be offered.

The flu can lead to complications such as bronchitis or pneumonia, and can worsen existing conditions.

 

What if I’m not ‘at-risk’ but worry about somebody I am in regular contact with?  Should I still have a flu jab?

 

If you live with, or care for somebody with a weakened immune system, your GP may advise you to have a flu jab.

Care workers should also have a flu jab to prevent the infection spreading to vulnerable patients or residents.

If you are a carer for a loved one, both yourself and the person you care for should have a flu jab.  Your GP should offer a free flu jab if the person you care for would become at-risk if you fall ill, and/or if you receive Carer’s Allowance.

 

How else can I prevent getting the flu?

 

We advise you to have a flu jab yearly if you or those close to you are at-risk.  However, there are other ways you can help to avoid getting or spreading the infection.

  • Practice good hygiene
    • clean regularly-used surfaces
    • wash your hands with soap regularly
    • cover coughs with tissues and dispose of them immediately
  • Take antiviral medication
    • Tamiflu or Relenza can help with flu prevention when you know you are susceptible; eg. if you have been on contact with somebody with the infection and are at-risk of complications.

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