|What is Seasonal Flu?|
Seasonal flu occurs every year, usually in the winter. It’s a highly infectious disease caused by a virus. The most likely viruses that will cause flu each year are identified in advance and vaccines are then produced that closely match them.
The H1N1 virus that caused the ‘swine flu’ pandemic last year will still be around this winter, so this year’s seasonal flu vaccine includes protection against this virus.
|Isn’t Flu just a Bad Cold?|
No. Colds are much less serious and usually start gradually with a stuffy or runny nose and a sore throat.
Flu symptoms hit you suddenly and severely. They usually include fever, chills, headaches and aching muscles, and you can often get a cough and sore throat at the same time.
Because flu is caused by viruses and not bacteria, antibiotics won’t treat it.
Don’t wait until there is a flu outbreak this winter: contact your GP or practice nurse now to get your seasonal flu jab.
|Who is Entitled to a Free Vaccination?|
Even if you feel healthy, you should definitely consider having the free seasonal flu vaccination if you have:
• a heart problem
• a chest complaint or breathing difficulties, including bronchitis or emphysema
• a kidney disease
• lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (such as steroid medication or cancer treatment)
• a liver disease
• had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
• a neurological condition, for example multiple sclerosis (MS) or cerebral palsy
• a problem with your spleen, for example sickle cell disease, or you have had your spleen removed.
You should also have the seasonal flu vaccination if you:
• are aged 65 years or over
• live in a residential or nursing home
• are the main carer of an older or disabled person, or
• are pregnant
|If I Am Pregnant, Should I Be Vaccinated?|
Yes. Pregnant women are being offered the flu vaccination this year. This is because the H1N1 virus (‘swine flu’) will still be circulating this winter and pregnant women who catch this strain are at an increased risk of severe disease and flu-related hospital admissions.
However, if you have already had the swine flu vaccination you do not need the seasonal flu vaccination. If you are pregnant and in any of the clinical risk groups you should still have your seasonal flu vaccination as usual. There are no known problems from giving the swine flu or seasonal flu vaccine to women who are pregnant.
|Is There Anyone Who Shouldn’t Have The Vaccine?|
Almost everybody can have the vaccine, but you should not be vaccinated if you have had a serious allergy to the vaccine in the past, or if you have a serious allergy to hens’ eggs.
If you have a fever, the vaccination may be delayed.
|How Do I Get the Vaccine?|
We send invites each year to all those people who are identified on our Clinical System automatically as entitled to a free vaccine. This year the number of people who should be vaccinated numbers nearly 5,000 on our Practice register.
Clinics are organised over several Saturdays, with a seperate clinic available for young children. If you are unable to attend one of the clinics, it is possible to book an appointment with one of our nurses.
Inevitably some people do no get automatically picked-up and sent an invite. If you believe you fit into any of the above criteria and haven’t been invited, please contact the Practice to go on our Request List. The request list is processed by viewing the requestors records – if it is apparent they should be vaccinated – an invite will be sent.
People who are totally housebound can request a home visit to receive their vaccination, these are processed by the GPs when all invites have been sent.
|What If I Am Not Entitled To The Free Vaccine?|
If you do not meet the criteria for free vaccination, it is possible to purchase the vaccine and have it administered at a large selection of Supermarkets and Pharmacies around the UK. We are aware that you can get this service from Morrisons Supermarket in Newcastle-under-Lyme and at Tescos in Shrewsbury.
There may be other local places to get the vaccine – please let us know if you find one so we can pass this information on to enquirers.
|Where Can I Find Further Information?|
Some of the information above is taken from a Department of Health Leaflet, this can be downloaded by following this link: Flu Information Leaflet
There is a lot of information on the NHS Choices Website: www.nhs.uk
Information on the vaccine itself can also be found on Wikipedia: www.wikipedia.com
Please call main reception if you have any other queries.