2021 Flu Season - Are you at risk? Are you eligible for the vaccine?

With autumn now firmly upon us, we are facing the onset of the winter flu season. If you have systemic sclerosis you may be at a higher risk if you catch the flu. What can you do to protect yourself?

With autumn now firmly upon us, we are also facing the onset of the winter flu season. In 2020, a record 19 million people were given the flu jab, with the government hoping to increase that number in 2021 – keeping even more people safe!

If you have systemic sclerosis and/or certain other conditions you may be at a higher risk of developing a more serious illness if you catch flu, therefore getting vaccinated is very important.

Who can get a free flu jab?

There is some variation between the four nations of the UK, however all four cover similar groups, which in England are

  • Pre-school children (2-3 year olds) and all school aged children up to and including year 11
  • Those living with long term conditions which put them at a higher risk of serious illness from flu from the age of 6 months
  • Pregnant women
  • All people aged 50 or over
  • Care home residents and staff
  • Unpaid Carers and/or those in close contact with people living with long term health conditions at increased risk of complications from flu
  • Health and care staff

How to get a free flu jab?

If eligible, you should have or will be contacted to invite you to receive your flu vaccine which will detail how you can make your appointment. You can also make an appointment directly with pharmacies offering the vaccination without an invite if you are within an eligible group.

Some groups of people like care home residents aged 80 and over may receive their flu vaccine at the time of your COVID-19 booster through health worker visits. If you have not been contacted by the NHS and believe that you are eligible, please get in touch with your GP surgery.

What if I’m not eligible for a free vaccine?

If you, or your loved ones are not entitled to a free jab many high street and community pharmacies offer private flu vaccination which usually cost between £10 -£15. Supplies may vary as vaccines will be prioritised for the groups mentioned above.

This year, like last year flu virus will be co-circulating in our communities alongside the COVID-19 virus, for which cases are still at a significant number. As both are respiratory conditions it is more important than ever to consider having the flu vaccine, even if you do not usually do this. This is because co-infection with both viruses can lead to serious health consequences.

The flu virus is constantly changing, meaning that even if you received a flu vaccine last year, you may not be adequately protected against the virus strains in circulation this year.

We understand that for many people within our community receiving certain immunosuppressive treatments there may be concerns over the effectiveness of vaccination. If you have any concerns about your medication and this vaccine, please talk to your health professional. If you cannot have the vaccination, your other household members should still be eligible, which can help to protect you even if you cannot receive it yourself.

About the flu vaccine

The flu vaccine is safe and effective and offers the best protection against the flu. Preventing the occurrences of flu-related illnesses helps to ease the pressure on the NHS, particularly at a time when so many resources are needed for COVID-19 patients.

It can take up to 14 days following the flu vaccination to develop a protective immune response against flu. The Government has expanded the number of people eligible for vaccination this year to 40 million (up from 30 million last year). You may have to wait for an appointment with either your GP, community pharmacist or community health services. 

With this in mind now is the best time for you and your loved ones to act to ensure you stand the best chance of being protected during the flu season. if you decide to have the vaccine, we encourage you and your loved ones to act early, to ensure that you are protected before the flu season is underway.

If you have any comments, queries or concerns surrounding any of these issues, please email info@sruk.co.uk.