Do you need a flu jab?
Vaccination against the flu virus is never going to be 100% effective. The strains of the virus change constantly and the vaccine does not work for everybody. At-risk groups though are encouraged to consider a flu jab as a useful extra line of defence against flu, especially where flu complications can be a serious health threat.
Those who are considered vulnerable to the flu virus include the elderly, pregnant women, and those in important carer positions.
- People over 65 years old are recommended to have the flu jab. The elderly are more susceptible to potential complications of the flu virus, such as bronchitis and pneumonia, which could lead to admission to hospital.
- Research has shown that pregnant women are at risk of flu complications, notably from the H1N1 strain of the virus. The flu vaccine can be administered safely at any time during pregnancy, with no risks to mother or baby. In addition, some flu protection is passed on to the child, and will last for a few months after birth.
- The flu jab is recommended for people with chronic conditions, including respiratory problems, heart, liver or kidney disease and neurological conditions.
- Employers should arrange flu jabs for key health and social care workers whose jobs involve regular contact with patients. Vaccination is a necessary precaution against spreading flu in the work environment and endangering the health of patients.
- People who are the primary carers for elderly or disabled relatives should also get advice on a flu jab. In these cases, being incapacitated with flu can have serious consequences.
If you are in any doubt, it is best to consult your GP about the flu jab. Most practices organise vaccination sessions in the surgery every autumn. If you don't qualify for these, it is still possible to arrange a flu jab as a private patient, although there is a charge for this service.