Happy October! Yes, October… someone ate September, because I blinked and missed it. How are you all doing?
It’s the flu season again, which has come across far too quickly since I posted about it last year! I wanted to update this for 2018 and the new ‘supercharged’ vaccination that’s now available as a little reminder to think about it & to help decide whether it’s something you may want to have.
It’s your choice as an individual whether you want one. If you don’t know enough about it or aren’t sure, check out this post and speak to your doctor or pharmacist, who can answer any questions you may have.
In the UK, the NHS gives yearly flu vaccinations to many individuals in the country who are deemed as being in an ‘at risk group’. For those who fall outside of those parameters, and indeed for those in other countries, you can often get a flu jab in a local doctor’s surgery or chemist for a reasonable price. The question is, should you get one?
I was recommended the flu jab last year and after some deliberation, I said went ahead with it. Despite having health conditions and a perhaps weakened immune system, I didn’t seem to catch colds and the flu more often than I would deem to be average. However, last year before the jab I caught the flu quite seriously twice in the space of just a couple of months, followed by numerous chest injections. I’ve also had it this year, just last week in fact, after the pharmacist asked whether I’d like one as I was picking up a prescription.
For me, thankfully, the experience has been a positive one in terms of having no side-effects and no drastic flu viruses thereafter.
Can You Get Ill From The Jab?
Experts claim you can’t get the flu from the jab; if you do, it’s a coincidence. But reports in the media suggest some people do the flu or side-effects quite badly. My mother is an example, as she came down with an awful flu about two days after hers, whether coincidental or not who knows.
Is it worth that chance of yourself bed ridden with bad case of flu? Are there other potential risks and side-effects we don’t really get told about? According to the NHS you may get some muscle aches and a slight fever for a few days afterwards, which doesn’t sound so bad. It certainly sounds as though there are less horror stories linked to the flu jab than to other immunisation shots. As previously mentioned, health bodies recommending the vaccination are regularly reassuring us that it’s safe and worthwhile. It’s important to remember that all those who get the vaccination aren’t really covered in the media and that you tend to hear the negative stories rather than success stories.
We’re still reassured, such as by the NHS, that the jab can’t and doesn’t give you the flu. Perhaps those who seem to are rare cases or the result is coincidental. But at the end of the day, with such things everyone reacts differently so there’s no total guarantee.
Does It Work?
Does it really prevent and protect you for the next year against catching the flu? Not necessarily. It will protect against the common strains, or at least from their effects being potentially severe. It likely won’t protect against all strains of the flu, and it will affect everyone differently. There are also indications that various other factors can influence the effectiveness of the flu jab, such as media reports claiming that flashing your pearly whites and having a positive mood at the time will help improve your body’s defences.
Of course, the story is not too straight forward when asking the question of whether it works. There’s evidence for its success, but many findings and media criticism for its limited effectiveness in other cases. The vaccination is there to help prevent an epidemic. It’s to prevent the prevalent strains of the flu for that year from seriously affecting your health, which, in some cases, could pose a life-threatening risk. Complications of the flu can range from pneumonia and bronchitis, to the worsening symptoms in those with chronic health conditions such as COPD.
It’s not a guarantee, but it’s a potentially life-saving layer of protection.
While the government last year admitted the jab was ineffective in protecting the majority of people, things have been ramped up for 2018 with the ‘mega-jab’.
2017 saw 15,000 people die from the flu virus, which has been considered to be the worst impact of the virus in around seven years. The 2018 vaccination is new and improved and available on the NHS to everyone over 65 and those in the vulnerable categories, such as NHS workers, carers, school children, those with a weakened immune system and those with certain conditions. The super-charged jab can be paid for by those who aren’t eligible for around £20.
Who’s Entitled To The Free NHS Jab?
This has been expanded a little for 2018 in the UK. You are generally deemed to be in at “at risk” group and therefore entitled to a free NHS flu jab if you :
- Are over 65 years old
- Are pregnant
- Live in a residential care home / long-term care facility
- Are a main carer/in receipt of carer’s allowance for a disabled or elderly individual who may be at risk if you fall ill
- Are a health/social care worker (your employer in this instance may fund and arrange the flu vaccination for you)
- School children
- Have certain medical conditions, including : Chronic kidney disease, chronic liver disease, chronic heart disease, neurological conditions like MS or Parkinson’s, respiratory diseases and conditions like COPD or asthma, have a compromised immune system (ie. due to AIDS/HIV, or steroid/chemotherapy treatments), BMI over 40, spleen disorders like sickle cell disease or if you’ve had your spleen removed.
Speak to your GP or pharmacist to discuss your health conditions and check your eligibility. Seek their opinion on the flu vaccination.
The NHS is a strong supporter of the flu vaccination and warns against the belief that it’s a waste of time. It can literally be a life-saver for some. Getting the jab is a personal choice and you should arm yourself with the relevant information first, then speak to your GP or local chemist about getting one. If you are in an at risk-group, the vaccination seems hugely important. If you’re not, but feel you could benefit from it and would like the reassurance of protection against flu complications, £20 for the more inclusive vaccination is a small price to pay. Now is the time to give it a little thought it you haven’t already.
Have you had the flu jab in previous years? Will you be having it this year?