Five myths around the flu jab dispelled and find out who is eligible for a free vaccine

Every year, we hear common misconceptions about the flu vaccination such as ‘I don’t need the flu jab, I’m fit as a fiddle’ or ‘I’m not having the vaccine as it gives you flu’.

As a result, NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group has compiled a list of the myths surrounding the immunisation programme and the real facts behind them in a bid to encourage those eligible to take up the vaccination.

Dr Jeremy Welch, local GP and NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group Governing Body lead for Tewkesbury, Newent and Staunton, said: “Flu can spread really easily and even without symptoms you could pass it on to a loved one or colleague.

“It can lead to serious health complications for people who already have a long term condition and so it is vital those who are eligible for the vaccination take it up.

“You wouldn’t get into a car and not put on a seat belt or let your child go out on their bike without a helmet? So why go into the winter season and not have a flu jab?

This year, a new enhanced vaccine will be available for people over 65 to help their body’s immune system stay better protected from the disease.

The free nasal spray vaccination programme will also be extended to children in year five at school.

Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s maternity teams will be offering the vaccine to those attending its antenatal clinic appointments for the fourth year in a row.

People working in the NHS are also being helped to receive the flu jab through a range of initiatives taking place including peer vaccination and drop-in clinics in the workplace.

Craig Bradley, Associate Chief Nurse and Deputy Director of Infection Prevention and Control at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Staff choosing to get their flu vaccine protects us and our families, ensuring we can stay healthy to deliver the best care and keep our patients safe during the winter months.”

To book your flu jab, contact your GP surgery or local pharmacy by the end of November.

The Myths Debunked:

You can’t die from flu

According to Public Health England, there were an estimated 15,969 deaths from flu in 2017/18. This is a 9% decrease in flu related deaths between 2016/17 and 2017/18

The flu vaccine gives you flu

You cannot get flu from the jab because the adult vaccine doesn’t contain live viruses.  Some people experience mild side effects such as soreness around the site of the jab or aching muscles but this is your immune system responding to the vaccine.

I had the vaccine last year, so I am covered

Just because you had the vaccination last year, it doesn’t mean you are covered from any new strains of flu circulating, so you need to have it every year.

I feel well, so I can’t have flu

You do not have to be showing any symptoms of flu to have it and therefore pass it on to someone else. Aside from having your flu vaccine, the best way to prevent the spread of flu is to practice good hand hygiene. Catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue, throw the tissue away and wash your hands.

My child will need to have an injection?

For most children, the flu vaccine is not usually an injection, just a quick and easy nasal spray. Children aged 2 and 3 receive the vaccine through their GP and children in reception and years 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 receive it in school. If you have a child who is of the eligible age, make sure you sign the consent form allowing them to have the flu vaccine at school.

Who is eligible for the free flu vaccination this winter 2018/19:

• Those aged 65 years and over
• Pregnant women
• Those living in a residential or nursing home
• The main carer of an older or disabled person
• Children aged 2-3 and those in reception class, and school years 1-5 (to those in year 5 for the first time)
• Frontline health and social care workers should also be offered the flu vaccination by their employer.

• Those aged under 65 with serious health conditions including:
• A heart problem
• A chest complaint or breathing difficulties, including COPD, bronchitis, emphysema or asthma
• Kidney disease
• Lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (such as steroid medication or cancer treatment)
• Liver disease
• Stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
• Diabetes
• A neurological condition e.g. multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy or learning disability
• A problem with spleen e.g. sickle cell disease, or you have had spleen removed.

For more information, visit our Flu Free pages here.