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
- 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.