The campaign will run across England, encouraging those who are eligible for the free flu vaccination to take up the offer. It is targeted at those with long-term health conditions, pregnant women, parents of children aged 2-4 and Those aged over 65.
Adverts will appear on radio and in the press about the flu vaccination, supported by information online.
Those who catch the flu pass it on to an average of two people, putting those most vulnerable at an increased risk, including those with long-term health conditions and pregnant women.
Flu is a highly infectious disease with symptoms that come on very suddenly. Healthy individuals usually recover in two to seven days but for some, the disease can lead to hospitalisation, permanent disability or even death.
For more information please visit the website www.gov.uk/government/collections/annual-flu-programme or for information about the child influenza please visit www.nhs.uk/child-fluTo view the booklet please click here
Groups eligible for the flu vaccination
Flu vaccinations are currently offered free of charge to the following groups:
- people aged 65 years or over (including those becoming age 65 years by 31 March 2016)
- all pregnant women (including those women who become pregnant during the flu season)
- all those aged two, three, and four years old on 31st August 2015
- School-aged children years 1 and 2 who are part of the pilot childhood programme
- people with a serious medical condition such as:
- chronic (long-term) respiratory disease, such as severe asthma
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or bronchitis
- chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- chronic kidney disease at stage three, four or 5
- chronic liver disease
- chronic neurological disease, such as Parkinson’s disease or motor neurone disease
- splenic dysfunction
- a weakened immune system due to disease (such as HIV/AIDS) or treatment (such as cancer treatment)
- people living in long-stay residential care homes or other long-stay care facilities where rapid spread is likely to follow introduction of infection and cause high morbidity and mortality. This does not include, for instance, prisons, young offender institutions, or university halls of residence
- people who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an older or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill Also recommended to be vaccinated as part of occupational health:
- health and social care workers with direct patient/service user contact. Healthcare practitioners should refer to the Green Book influenza chapter for further guidance.30
Facts and statistics
Below are some key facts and statistics which may also help your practice in communicating with patients about the importance of the flu vaccination
- Flu is an acute viral infection of the respiratory tract (nose, mouth, throat, bronchial tubes and lungs). It is a highly infectious illness which spreads rapidly in closed communities and even people with mild or no symptoms can infect other
- Flu is caught through droplets of saliva that spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can then be breathed in by other people or they can be picked up by touching surfaces where the droplets have lande
- Flu is characterised by a fever, chills, headache, muscle and joint pain and fatigue. For most healthy people, flu symptoms can make you feel so exhausted and unwell that you have to stay in bed and rest until you get better
- Flu immunisation is one of the most effective ways to prevent flu and so reduce the potential harm it can cause
- The most likely viruses that will cause flu each year are identified in advance of the flu season in the UK and vaccines are then made to provide protection against these strains as closely as possible
- Those who are eligible to receive the flu vaccination for free, are recommended to do so as early as possible from October, before flu starts circulating in the community
- A nasal spray is the recommended vaccine for children. The vaccine induces better immune memory, offering better long-term protection to children
- The nasal spray vaccine is given as a spray in each nostril
- For adults, the vaccine is administered by injection into the skin of the upper arm
Mums / Children aged 2-4
- Children aged 2-4 are eligible for the free flu vaccination. This is given as a nasal spray – a quick, effective and painless alternative to the injection
- Flu is a really nasty disease which can make little ones very poorly
- Protecting children can stop the flu from spreading to other children they may come into contact with and to the rest of the family, in particular to grandparents, who may be at particular risk from flu
- Even though in 2013/14, this was the first year a nasal spray vaccination for children was available, encouragingly 40% of eligible children in England were vaccinated against flu during the season
- Flu during pregnancy may be associated with pre and post birth mortality, prematurity, smaller neonatal size, lower birth weight and increased risk of complications for mother
- The flu vaccine can be given safely at any stage of pregnancy from conception onwards
- The flu vaccination also protects the baby during the first few months of its life as immunity continues after the baby is born
Long term health condition
- People with long term health conditions are eligible for a free flu vaccination. The flu vaccination is important for those with a long-term health condition, even if well managed, because of the increased risk of complications and even death as a result of flu
- 15.4million people, over a quarter of the UK population, have a long-term health condition
- Just over half of those with long-term health conditions took up the offer of the free vaccination last flu season, there are a total of 15.4 million people in this group eligible for the vaccination and therefore protection from flu each year
- The injected flu vaccine is offered free of charge on the NHS to anyone with a serious long term health condition. This includes the following types of illnesses: chronic (long term) respiratory disease such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or bronchitis, chronic heart disease, such as heart failure, chronic kidney disease, chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis, chronic neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or motor neurone disease, diabetes, people with problems with their spleen – for example, sickle cell disease, or have had their spleen removed, people with a weakened immune system due to conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or as a result of medication such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy.
This list of conditions isn't definitive. It's always an issue of clinical judgement. GPs can assess individuals to take into account their risk of flu exacerbating any underlying illness, as well as their risk of serious illness from flu itself. The vaccine should always be offered in such cases, even if people are not technically in one of the risk groups above.