As the nights draw in and the autumnal weather puts a chill in the air, those of us who are usually called up for the annual NHS flu jab are likely to be getting those notifications.
The annual flu vaccination programme was first introduced in England in the late 1960s, when vaccination was offered to those who were at a higher risk of severe illness. It was extended to all individuals aged over 65 in 2000, and eligibility has been further modified since then to include more of the population.
For this year’s campaign, those who are eligible for a free flu vaccination in England include:
- People aged 65 and over
- Family carers
- People aged 6 months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups (this includes people with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, bronchitis, chronic heart, kidney or liver disease, diabetes, neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, learning disability or cerebral palsy, sickle cell disease or other problems with the spleen or if a person’s spleen has been removed, a weakened immune system as a result of conditions including HIV/AIDS, steroid medication or chemotherapy, a person who is seriously overweight with a BMI of 40 or above, and pregnant women)
- People in long-stay residential care homes
- Close contacts of immunocompromised individuals
- Children aged two to 10 on August 31, 2019
If you don’t fall into one of these groups, you can still purchase a flu jab should you wish; your local pharmacy may provide this service.
Flu vaccination is advised for everyone in at-risk groups and those who provide care and support for people in at-risk groups because flu is a serious illness that can cause complications such as pneumonia or even death. The reason for the annual call-up for flu vaccinations is because protection from previous flu vaccines decreases over time and strains of flu change regularly, hence the need for new vaccines to be made every year.
For most people there are few or no side effects from having the jab. If you do get side effects, these are most likely to be a sore arm, slight temperature and/or aching muscles. It is also important to note that you cannot catch the flu from having the flu jab as there are no active viruses in the vaccine.
Although it isn’t guaranteed that an individual who has had the flu jab won’t get the flu, if a person who has been vaccinated contracts flu it’s likely to be milder and more short-lived than it would otherwise have been. There is even some evidence that the flu vaccine can reduce a person’s risk of having a stroke.
At Promedica24, all of our clients fall into one or more of the at-risk groups, especially those in elderly care, so we encourage and help to facilitate everyone using our live-in care services to obtain the flu jab. The advised vaccination period is from the beginning of October to the end of November to allow for the 10-14 day period it takes for the vaccine to become effective prior to flu beginning to circulate in communities.
We also encourage all of our frontline care staff to have the vaccine. Flu vaccination is recommended for frontline health and social care workers by the NHS to help prevent the transmission of flu and to protect both staff and those that they care for. Vaccination for care workers is usually available from a local pharmacy or the person’s GP practice.
To emphasise the importance of the flu jab for the health and social care workforce, Public Health England have produced a series of resources with some specifically aimed at social care staff, and we will be distributing these to our workforce as a priority.
To find out more about the support that Promedica24 can provide for you or a family member, please call our team on 01254 375023 07419 111981