Flu Immunisations

Message from Public Health – Never assume that you will never get flu and don’t need a vaccine!

Please consider these facts:

  • Simple seasonal flu can worsen and cause bacterial chest infection; this can become serious and develop into pneumonia. In Bedfordshire alone, last year in 2013 when we have had mild winter, there were 1449 patients admitted to hospitals due to severe chest infection from flu. Bedfordshire had a direct hospital cost of £4.3 million due to flu related pneumonia admissions.
  • It is not just pneumonia that can develop, but it can also complicate and cause infection in the brain and spinal cord (meningitis); infection of the blood that causes a severe drop in blood pressure (septic shock); inflamed tonsils (Tonsillitis); fluid collection in the inflamed ear (Otitis media); and inflammation of the brain (Encephalitis).
  • All these complications can worsen, and, become life threatening. There were 270 deaths reported with pneumonia where flu was the underlying cause.
  • The symptoms of flu can affect some people more severely than others. The flu and colds usually last three times longer in pregnant women and it affects the growing baby, causing complications such as low birth weight or premature birth. Older adults and people with chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or HIV/AIDS are more at risk of getting complications from flu

Do you know that just one vaccine in a year?

  • Reduces possibility of getting flu infection by 70%; and you transferring that infection to others at home or at work.
  • If you get an infection, it brings down the severity of the complication and reduces your chance of emergency hospital admission by 70%.
  • It also reduces death due to flu complication by 80%.
  •  Reduces the risk of hospital admission in nursing home/care home residents by about 50%, the risk of pneumonia by about 60%; and the risk of death by 75%.

Having a flu vaccine does not give you flu and it is safe to have a vaccine

Our seasonal flu vaccination programme is started at the end of September/beginning of October.  Please keep an eye open in the surgery for clinic dates. Below is a list of the “at risk groups” included in this year’s programme:

  • All children age, 2, 3 and 4 years (born between 2.9.2009 and 1.9.2012)
  • All patients aged 65 and over
  • All those aged over 6 months and in a clinical risk group :
    • Chronic respiratory disease and asthma that requires continuous use of inhaled steroids
    • Coronary heart disease
    • Chronic renal disease
    • Chronic liver disease
    • Diabetes
    • Immunosuppression due to disease or treatment, including patients undergoing chemotherapy, patients who have had a splenectomy, patients treated with or likely to be treated with systemic steroids for more than 1 month at a dose equivalent to Prednisolone at 20mgs or more per day.
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinsons disease
  • Motor neurone disease
  • Patients living in long stay residential/nursing care homes
  • Main carers of elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill

If you have an egg allergy you are advised to speak to the practice nurse in the first instance.