Some common questions about seasonal flu are answered below along with important information about Shingles and Pneumococcal vaccines
What is a seasonal flu vaccine?
This is an annual vaccination given between August (depending on supplies) and January to help protect against the influenza virus. There are lots of different types of flu but the seasonal vaccine will give you protection against the most common and most dangerous strains.
Am I entitled to a flu vaccination?
The following groups of patients are eligible to receive a free flu jab under the NHS:
- People over 65 years of age
- People over 6 months in the following clinical risk groups:
- Chronic respiratory disease including asthmatics who are on continuous or repeated use of inhaled or systemic steroids or with previous exacerbations requiring hospital admission
- Chronic heart disease
- Chronic renal disease
- Chronic liver disease
- Chronic neurological disease
- Women in any stage of pregnancy
- Residents of long-stay residential or care homes
- Those in receipt of carer's allowance
Unfortunately in order to protect our supplies for these at risk groups we are NOT able to offer flu jabs all patients even if you would like one - please see our section below on private flu jabs.
The flu vaccination is available to our staff, even if they do not fall into one of the above categories. This helps to ensure that we avoid prolonged periods of staff sickness and ensures that appointments are not lost. Unfortunately in order to protect our supplies for at risk patients we are NOT able to offer flu jabs to health workers employed at other organisations - your own organisation will have a mechanism for you to receive the immunisation.
What happens if I can't get to the practice for a flu jab?
We routinely visit residential homes to provide flu jabs. However, if you are housebound, please contact the surgery and we will try and arrange for a nurse to see you at home.
If I am not in an at risk group can I still receive a flu jab?
Yes, but you will need to pay for it. Under the terms of our contract to provide medical services we are unable to offer private flu jabs for our own patients. Flu jabs are available privately from a number of local pharmacies and supermarkets for between £8 and £13.
Shingles - Are you eligible for a vaccination?
Shingles is an infection of the nerve and skin aound it. It usually starts with tingling or burning in an area of skin, and is followed by the eruption of a painful rash, usually on one side of the body of face. It is caused by a reactivation of the chickenpox virus and normally lasts up to four weeks. Shingles affects about 1 in 4 people during their lifetime but as we get older we are more likely to develop Shingles due to changes and weakening of the immune system.
Please click here to see if you are eligible for a shingles vaccination.
Other age groups will be introduced in future years to ensure that all people aged 70 to 79 are offered vaccinations against shingles. People over the age of 80 are not part of the national programme because it is deemed to be less effective in that age group.
The pneumococcal vaccine (or 'pneumo jab' or pneumonia vaccine as it's also known) protects against pneumococcal infections. Pneumococcal infections are caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae and can lead to pneumonia, septicaemia (a kind of blood poisoning) and meningitis.
A pneumococcal infection can affect anyone. However, certain groups are at higher risk of complications. These include:
- all children under the age of two
- adults aged 65 or over
- children and adults with certain long-term health conditions, such as a serious heart or kidney condition
As the over 65 age group coincides with the seasonal flu at risk age group, it is likely that you will be asked if you would like a pheumococcal vaccination as well. Please note you only need one pneumococcal vaccination once over the age of 65 so will not be asked every year. You can discover more avout pneumonia and the pneumococcal vaccination on the NHS Choices website.