Lakenham Surgery Influenza Vaccinations
At this time of year we start to get enquiries from patients about our annual flu campaign, which last year saw us vaccinate over 2000 patients against this disease.
Traditionally, the campaign runs from October through to December and most people are aware that patients aged 65 or over (as at 31/3/2013) and those who are pregnant are eligible for a free vaccination through the NHS.
However, there are various medical conditions, detailed below, that can cause the symptoms of flu to be particularly severe and the Department of Health recommends that these patients are also vaccinated. Again this is available free of charge and includes children and babies over 6 months of age.
Patients eligible for a vaccination under the NHS
Patients aged 65 or over (date of birth on or before 31/3/1948)
Pregnant ladies – at whatever stage of pregnancy
In addition patients suffering with one or more of the following are eligible: -
- heart disease.
- kidney disease.
- liver disease.
- respiratory disease such as asthma, cystic fibrosis and COPD including those who suffer from chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
- Carers – those who are receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person who welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill. *
- Patients who suffer from a condition or are on a course of treatment such as chemotherapy that can result in them having a suppressed immune system.
- Patients who have suffered a stroke.
If you are unsure whether you are entitled to a flu vaccination then please speak with a member of the reception team.
Over the last few years the majority of patients have had their vaccination at one of our specially arranged Saturday morning clinics. Details of the dates of these clinics and other information on how you can receive the vaccination will be available on the ‘notice board’ page of this website.
What is seasonal flu?
Flu is a highly infectious and very common viral illness that is spread by coughs and sneezes. It is not the same as the common cold. Flu is caused by a different group of viruses and symptoms tend to be more severe and last for longer.
Flu causes a sudden high temperature, headache and general aches and pains, tiredness and sore throat. You can lose your appetite, feel nauseous and have a cough. Flu symptoms can make you feel so exhausted and unwell that you have to stay in bed and rest until you feel better.
Some people are more susceptible to the effects of flu. For them it can increase the risk of more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia, or make existing conditions worse. In the worst cases, seasonal flu can result in a stay in hospital, or even prove fatal.
I had the seasonal flu vaccination last year. Do I need a further flu jab this winter?
Yes. The viruses that cause flu change every year. This means that the flu strains that will be circulating this winter will be different from last year, so the vaccine you need to protect you will be different as well.
Is there anyone who shouldn’t have the vaccination?
Almost everyone can have the vaccine, but you should not have it if you have ever had an allergic reaction to a flu vaccine or one of its ingredients. This happens very rarely.
If you have had a serious (anaphylactic) reaction to egg, please speak to a member of the nursing team before visiting the surgery to have the injection. They may decide that you should be vaccinated with an egg-free vaccine.
If you have a fever, the vaccination may be delayed.
Will I get any side effects?
The flu jab does not usually cause side effects. Sometimes, it can cause mild fever and slight muscle aches for a day or so.
The flu jab cannot cause flu as there are no active viruses in the vaccine. However, people sometimes catch other flu-like viruses, or very occasionally could catch flu before the vaccine takes effect. Allergic reactions to the vaccine are rare.
I am pregnant. Is the vaccination safe for me and the baby?
It is recommended that all pregnant women should have the flu vaccine, whatever stage of pregnancy they're in. This is because there is good evidence that pregnant women have an increased risk of developing complications if they get flu.
Studies have shown that the flu vaccine can be safely and effectively given during any trimester of pregnancy. The vaccine does not carry risks for either the mother or baby. In fact, studies have shown that mothers who have had the vaccine while pregnant pass some protection to their babies, which lasts for the first few months of their lives.
* This category refers to individual carers entitled to a free vaccine under the NHS, not professional health and social care workers who should approach their employer as part of their occupational health programme.