NHS England are once again providing the flu vaccine free of charge for all care staff.
The vaccination is also available to those of us aged over 65 and people with certain health conditions.
Flu is a serious illness for people in vulnerable circumstances. Getting the flu vaccine helps to protect those who get the vaccine, as well as their families and the people work with, care for and support.
You may unknowingly pass on the flu without displaying any symptoms. Protect those close to you and those you provide care to by getting the flu vaccine as soon as you can. There is good reason for you to have the ‘flu vaccination this year, as people may be more at risk of sickness than last year.
Care Workers should visit their local pharmacy to request their free vaccine. We are told that identification should not be required this year, however, we suggest that you wear your uniform and take your identity badge with you regardless. Although the hope is COVID-19 boosters and flu jabs can be combined in a single visit, careworkers are encouraged not to wait to get both together if either one is available, they should take this at the earliest opportunity.
Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England
“Every year we urge our colleagues to protect themselves, their families and their patients by taking up the free flu jab, and every year more and more do – but this year’s call is the most vital we have ever made.
“The flu has a serious impact on the health of thousands of people every winter, and with the added risk of COVID-19 this year the NHS needs as many of its staff as possible to be fighting fit over the coming months. So, we must also do the same for flu. Getting a vaccine is the single most effective way every member of our staff can contribute to this.”
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock
“Last year saw more health care workers than ever before getting their flu jab. This year we can go further so that all of our brilliant frontline NHS and social care staff can get the flu vaccine as standard – so that together we can meet the unique challenge we face this winter.”
Professor Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director at Public Health England
“This year, it is more important than ever to get your flu jab with COVID-19 still in circulation. Flu can require hospitalisation, which would add pressure on the NHS and social care when they may also be dealing with cases of COVID-19.
“Getting your flu jab is easy and takes just a few minutes, but it could save someone’s life.”
For the majority of people who catch flu, it is unpleasant, however, some will be unaware they have it and not display any symptoms. For some people, the flu can lead to chest infections, severe complications and death. Globally, seasonal flu accounts for about three to five million causes of severe illness annually and between 250,000 and 500,000 deaths.
The flu vaccine has an excellent safety record
The risk of having a serious reaction to the seasonal flu vaccine is less than one in a million. This is much lower than the risk of getting seriously ill from having the flu itself.
The flu jab can’t give you the flu
It is impossible to get flu from the having the flu jab because the vaccine doesn’t contain live viruses. A very small number of people experience side effects such as aching muscles, but this is simply the immune system responding to the vaccine.
The side effects of the flu vaccination aren’t bad
For the most part, seasonal flu vaccine side effects are mild or often non-existent. The most common side effect is soreness around the site of the injection and occasionally aching muscles. These symptoms are a lot less serious than having flu.
You need the vaccine every year
If you were vaccinated last year, you won’t be protected against the new strains of flu circulating which are generally best matched by the current seasonal vaccine.
Pregnant women can be vaccinated
Pregnant women can have the flu vaccination at any stage of their pregnancy. Having the vaccination when pregnant is beneficial and helps protect baby from flu over the first few months of life.
Healthy diets won’t prevent flu
Your diet could well be helping to boost your immune system, but eating well will not protect you from flu. The best way to protect yourself, family and patients against flu is by getting the flu jab.
Hand-washing is very important, but it won’t stop flu
It is vital to follow universal infection prevention procedures and wash your hands, but once flu has been passed on to your family, colleagues or your patients, clean hands won’t keep flu at bay. Book your flu jab as soon as possible, and encourage those around you to do the same.
Anyone can get the flu
One of the most common reasons for not getting vaccinated is “I’ve never had flu before”. There’s no such thing as natural immunity to influenza; with new strains circulating this year, it’s best to get vaccinated against flu.
NHS Choices Website: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Flu/Pages/Prevention.aspx
Please contact us if you need support to visit the GP surgery for your flu vaccine.