Flu Jab 2018 : Time To Get One?

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?

My Experience

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.  

What’s New?

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.

Should You?

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?

Caz  

 

 

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36 Comments

  1. October 1, 2018 / 4:51 pm

    Like I wrote in my own article about the flu jab, a few weeks ago, I’ll be getting it and always do. I almost died from it before as it put me on life support in intensive care, so I won’t risk it.

    • October 8, 2018 / 3:55 pm

      I think an awful experience like what you had can really hit home how dangerous the flu can be, and how important vaccination is in trying to prevent that. Thank you for sharing, Rachel – I hope the rest of the year is flu-free for you 🙂 xx

  2. October 1, 2018 / 4:56 pm

    Hubby and I are both seniors and we always get the flu shot each year. We never get the flu when we get the shot. I’m all for getting the flue shot.

    Have a fabulous day and week. ♥

    • October 8, 2018 / 3:54 pm

      Fab to hear you both get the vaccination and have never suffered with the flu after! Here’s to another year flu-free for you two 🙂
      xx

  3. October 1, 2018 / 5:13 pm

    I think it’s unfortunate that the idea continues to persist that people can get the flu from the flu shot. The injectable influenza vaccine does not contain influenza virus; it only contains proteins from the virus capsule, so there’s nothing in it that could potentially cause an influenza infection. The nasal spray version of the vaccine is different as it contains live but weakened virus, so it isn’t recommended for people with weakened immune systems.

    • October 1, 2018 / 6:21 pm

      I didn’t know there was a difference bbetween the two.

    • October 8, 2018 / 3:53 pm

      You’re right in that the vaccination doesn’t contain the virus, it’s just odd that some do contract is badly after the vaccination, coincidence or not. I don’t know much (or anything, really) about the nasal spray, and haven’t heard of that as an alternative in the UK to the injectable but it’s a good point to keep in mind given the difference between the two. Thanks for the comment 🙂

  4. October 1, 2018 / 5:24 pm

    I qualify for it this year as I am over 65. I used to have it in previous years as I worked in a nursing home and I would hate to think one of our elderay residents caught it from me. The more people who have it the greater the herd immunity will be. If you are in contact with someone who is in a vulnerable group I think it is worth having to protect them.

    • October 8, 2018 / 3:43 pm

      I would agree, when with others who are vulnerable it’s perhaps all the more important to protect yourself and others by having it. Thank you for sharing Anne. Are you considering it this year? xx

  5. October 1, 2018 / 5:46 pm

    I will certainly be getting it. I get flu way more than the average person, including last season after having had the jab. But then I had measles as I child and I’d been vaccinated against that too! 😁

    • October 8, 2018 / 2:34 pm

      Oh no, that’s so unfortunate (for lack of a better word!) – seems to happen with some people, albeit the minority, who get vaccinated against something then contract it anyway. I hope the flu jab this year can keep the worst of the flu at bay and your body more resilient. xx

  6. October 1, 2018 / 6:53 pm

    I live in the US where the flu deaths last year were close to 50K. I was a nurse practitioner, so always got the shot when I was working.

    Since getting ME/CFS I’ve avoided it based on someone’s (an expert whose name I can’t recall) recommendation that it would not be good because it would over-stimulate my weakened immune system. BTW, I’ve NEVER gotten a cold or flu since contracting ME.

    • October 8, 2018 / 2:32 pm

      It’s shocking how high the death toll is with the flu, but I’m glad you were vaccinated when you were a nurse. I don’t know with the ME/CFS side of things, I’d not been told that with my immune system issues (quite the opposite in fact, to get it because my system is weaker). Nonetheless, very good to hear you’ve not had a cold or flu since ME, that’s brilliant! How long has it been? I hope you continue to stay flu-free, and thanks for the comment, Ellie 🙂
      x

  7. October 1, 2018 / 7:25 pm

    Great information. Here in the US, the flu season was horrible in 2017-2018. I had both strains and it was a horrible few months. Here’s to us all staying healthy this year!

    • October 8, 2018 / 2:30 pm

      I’m sorry the states also had a bad flu season, seems a lot of countries struggle with the dangerous effects of the virus. I hope you can be flu-free for the rest of the year! xx

  8. October 1, 2018 / 7:45 pm

    I’ve been getting the flu shot for a few years now. My experience has been a slightly sore arm to a few sniffles for a day. I think the benefits outweigh the negatives. Jab on!

    • October 8, 2018 / 2:28 pm

      Good to hear you’ve not had any awful experiences with it either and I’d agree, the potential benefit outweighs negatives to protect your health. Thanks for the comment! x

  9. October 2, 2018 / 7:59 am

    I lie in Australia so already had the flu jab. Our winter is finished now and flu season will be ending next month.

    • October 7, 2018 / 8:23 pm

      What was your flu season like in Australia?

    • October 8, 2018 / 2:27 pm

      Glad you’ve already had it, and I hope you’re doing a little better after your recent cold.
      What’s the weather like over there at the moment? xx

  10. October 2, 2018 / 9:57 am

    Really informative post. I’ve had the flu jabs when I was pregnant a few years back, last year, and then just last week! I luckily had no side effects the first two times, but last week I really felt the effects the next day. Feeling wiped out, achy, feverish etc. However, it only seemed to last a day and a half and then thankfully I was fine! I think for me personally, it’s worth it, as I can’t risk getting wiped out by the flu alongside dealing with ME! Thanks for writing this and for all the info xx

  11. October 2, 2018 / 10:09 am

    Hi Caz,

    very informative text.I know that many people use flu vaccines, but I believe that the best prevention is our immune system. We need to strengthen our immune system.To clear our mind for all garbage, and to insert positive thought good food 🙂

    • October 3, 2018 / 8:44 am

      I think doing whatever possible to boost and strengthen your immune system is very helpful, to whatever extent you can as obviously many conditions hamper he immune system and therefore need a little help. Positive thoughts, good food and less stress and all things we should prioritise! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Ben – Have a great rest of your week 🙂

  12. October 2, 2018 / 12:49 pm

    Although it is strongly recommended that I get the flu shot, I don’t.. I do tend to stay away from people all winter though, as I prefer to hibernate as much as possible from the cold

    • October 3, 2018 / 8:45 am

      I hibernate too, though at the moment I think it’s colder in my room than it is outside from some unknown reason. It’s your own choice whether you have it or not, and as long as you have the information you need to make that decision then that’s fine. I hope you stay well and have a positive rest of your week lovely 🙂

  13. October 2, 2018 / 7:17 pm

    Another great, informative post Caz! I do get my flu shot each year, and I really believe it helps. As you said, they don’t always protect you from all strains, but if it protects from any of them, I feel it increases my odds of staying well through the season.😊

    • October 3, 2018 / 8:02 am

      I feel the same with that the vaccination can help improve your odds of staying well, which is why I’ve had it again this year too. I’m glad you liked the post – I hope you’re flu-free for the rest of the year, Terri! 🙂

  14. October 3, 2018 / 5:35 am

    Wow! How very informative. I learnt so much from this. I have never had a jab but my symptoms of flu aren’t overwhelmingly bad – I do prefer to stay free of it, as my mum once got it super bad after a vaccination a couple of ago.
    Anyway, I hope that you stay free of flu this year!
    Have a lovely day, I can’t wait to be seeing more posts,
    Erin xx

    • October 3, 2018 / 8:00 am

      Really glad you found the post informative! I’m sorry your mum had the flu so badly after a vaccination a couple of years ago too, sounds like what happened with my mum. Here’s to hoping we’re both flu-free for the rest of the year, Erin! 🙂
      x

  15. October 4, 2018 / 2:05 am

    You know, I’ve never had a flu shot in all my life, and I’ve actually never had the flu either. Although, I do understand why some choose to get it.

  16. October 4, 2018 / 4:54 am

    I don’t get them because I’m confident that if I got the flu, I’d get over it ok. If I were somehow in danger of the flu getting me in some big awful way, then I’d get the shot. To me, less is more in the sense that if I don’t need one, then why take any risks of side effects, etc?

  17. October 4, 2018 / 5:21 am

    Got mine last week. I hope I got the super duper mega version here in the states, but who knows. My arm didn’t even get warm, I know that sounds weird, but normally when I get a flu shot the injection site is warm for a couple of days. Not this time, or I didn’t notice anyway.
    I do wonder if they have the flu as rampant here as they do on the East coast. (you may remember I moved from the East coast, North Carolina, to the Southwest, Tucson, AZ.. ie. the desert.) It doesn’t get that cold here so people aren’t all huddled inside more than they are any other time of the year. They might actually be outside more since it’s not so hot. Yes, nights can get colder, but the days are very pleasant. (soon, oh please tell me that will be soon, I’m so tired of the heat and the monsoons, and just think, this is my first summer here, what have I gotten myself into?)
    Anyway, I always thought that the virus traveled faster in the winter because it’s cold and you are inside more, all those germs have no where to go. But if that isn’t the case here then it completely throws my theory out the window. hahaha
    I haven’t had the flu in many years, than goodness. I credit the shot., it sure isn’t my stellar immune system.
    My you never get the flu again…ever!!! xo

  18. October 5, 2018 / 6:23 pm

    Hi Caz, I tend to get the flu jab simply because I feel so absolutely awful when I get it. Luckily, I have had no adverse reactions at all. There has been a lot of debate on whether the kids in my children’s school should have it. I think that it is good to have, not just to protect yourself but also to help protect those vulnerable adults and kids who the flu can be particularly dangerous for xx

  19. October 16, 2018 / 2:42 am

    Great post. I’m still debating whether to get my flu jab. It always makes my POTS symptoms much worse, but then again, so does getting the flu. Now that my father-in-law lives with us, I also have to be mindful about passing the flu on to him, as it’s much more dangerous for the elderly.

    • October 16, 2018 / 3:27 pm

      You’re right, also have to consider others (I was the same worrying about my dad, though he refuses to get the flu jab himself). Probably shouldn’t mention this, but just a few days after I had the jab this time, so just after publishing the post, I got the flu..! Coincidence apparently.. Still, flu jab takes around 12 days to provide max protection and I prefer to think it’ll mean I don’t get it again and if I did it wouldn’t be as potentially dangerous. A tricky one to weigh it up, especially if it makes your POTS symptoms worse, so only you can make the choice. Shame it’s not more straightforward then more people would have the jab and less people would be so ill from it! 🙂
      xx

  20. October 16, 2018 / 3:57 pm

    When my vertigo started last year it was these brief bouts of insane dizziness that lasted an hour. I got my flu shot, and the vertigo went out of control and hasn’t stopped. If you dig for it you can find information that people with existing vestibular disorders can have a worsening of their vertigo after the shot. The next day I couldn’t function. Five days later I went to the ER and asked if the shot was causing all this… but they said side effects, which that can be one, only last three days. I just didn’t know what to do about it because it was severely interfering with my work and my ability to get to work. Until I was forced to go off work. And… maybe just a coincidence really.

    In regards to side effects. I always felt miserable and flu-like for three days after. It isn’t the flu, it is just a reaction to the fillers and can happen to people with fibromyalgia. So I stopped getting them. But last year I did, and like I said I had one hell of a reaction.

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