We asked one of the doctors here at Healthy Telford to tell us why herself and her children will be getting the flu jab this year.
By Dr Rachael Bovington
It’s that time of year again when it’s starting to get darker and colder, cough and cold seem to be surfacing more and more. It’s also the time of year for flu.
I received a text last night from my daughters GP surgery telling me she was eligible to be immunised. My older child had a letter from school. So I thought I would take a step back and think about why for me getting them and myself (as a doctor) vaccinated is important.
1.Quite simply I don’t want any of us to have flu
Flu is not just a cold, it can be horribly unpleasant. I would rather my kids and I didn’t have it. The flu jab will reduce our risk of getting flu. It can take 10-14 days to take effect though so ideally we need to get it at as soon as possible.
2. The kids vaccine is a nasal spray – no needles!
It is very quick to administer, a single spray up each nostril. Their vaccine is live but weakened flu virus. For a few children this may not be appropriate. Children are now offered the vaccine if age 2 on August 31st 2017 to Year 4 of school.
3. The grandparents
If we reduce our risk of getting flu it will also reduce theirs. For them getting flu it maybe more serious they are more at risk of complications to such as pneumonia (lung infection).
4. My pregnant friends and their little ones
Again, reducing the risk of us getting flu will mean we are less likely to pass it on to them. There is strong evidence that suggest that if pregnant there is an increased risk of developing complications if they get flu.
The most common complication is bronchitis (a chest infection) that may develop into a pneumonia. However, if someone has flu whilst pregnant it could also mean that their baby is born prematurely or have low birth weight.
5. Those I know who have weakened immune systems
When I think about people who I know who have had chemotheraphy and have been bed bound, I know that if myself or my kids had inadvertently brought flu to them – it may have been fatal.
I can’t help thinking of others also who are in the same situation who we could potentially spread flu to.
As an aside If you live with someone with a weakened immune system you may be advised to have flu jab even if you do not reach the other criteria, speak to your GP regarding this.
6. Protecting the ‘herd’
I feel as if I have a duty to the ‘herd’, me vaccinating myself and my children means that we have done our bit to hopefully reduce the amount of flu which is around in the local community.
This means that those at risk of complications who haven’t or cannot be vaccinated maybe a little more protected through my actions. The old saying “prevention is better than cure”.
7. The flu jab is free for many
For me, my children, and a whole range of people, the flu jab is free.Some places of employment have schemes which can supplement cost.
If you aren’t eligible for a free flu jab then certain pharmacies will vaccinate for a charge.
Currently the vaccine is recommended and free of charge for if you are:
- over 65,
- a child from the age of 2 up to those in Year 4 at school,
- in long stay residential care,
- receive a carer’ allowance, or are a main carer for someone
- a child or adult with certain health care conditions (chronic lung, heart, kidney and lung conditions).
8. We need it every year
The strains of flu change from year to year and the antibodies (the protection) our bodies make from having the vaccine decrease over time.
In February each year people at World Health Organization look at which strains of flu are most likely to affect us for the following Winter. The injected flu vaccine is a killed vaccine so cannot cause flu itself.