Have you given your risk of flu a second thought?

Many people are entitled to a free flu jab this year, and you may have received a letter about this. But why is this important and what are the benefits? And is there anyone who should not have the flu vaccine? We have all the answers you need.

With autumn now firmly upon us, we are also facing the onset of the winter flu season. 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. You may even have received a letter from the NHS informing you that you are eligible for a free annual flu jab.

This year, the flu will be co-circulating in our communities along with the COVID-19 virus, for which there is currently no vaccine available. This means that 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. Research from Public Health England suggests that people who are co-infected with both viruses are over six-times more likely to suffer complications requiring admission to Intensive Care and ventilation. 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 such as cyclophosphamide, the flu jab may not be an option. 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.  

Please inform your healthcare professional if you are allergic to eggs, or in the past have had an allergic reaction to the flu vaccine; as you may be advised not to have it. If you are currently ill with a high temperature you should let the person giving you the vaccine know, as you may be advised to reschedule.

We further recommend that you speak to your healthcare professional regarding any concerns you may have on your decision to take the flu vaccine.  

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 also expanded the number of people eligible for vaccination this year to 30 million (up from 25 million last year). Since high-risk groups are given priority, you may have to wait for an appointment with either your GP, community pharmacist or community health services. With this in mind, 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.  

This article is intended for information purposes only. You should not feel pressurised to take the flu vaccine if you do not wish to do so. If you have any comments, queries or concerns surrounding any of these issues, please call us on 020 3893 5998 or email info@sruk.co.uk.