It’s that time of year again, when we remind you to book for your annual flu vaccine.

Here are our frequently asked questions and answers:

What are the benefits of flu vaccination?

Influenza is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalisation and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently, but millions of people get flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalised and thousands to tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect against flu.

There are many reasons to get an influenza (flu) vaccine each year. Because of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, getting a flu vaccine this year will be more important than ever. Flu vaccines will not prevent COVID-19, but they will reduce the burden of Flu illnesses, hospitalisations, deaths and pressure on the health care system and conserve scarce medical resources.

The benefits of Flu vaccination include:

  • Flu vaccination can keep you from getting sick with flu.
  • Flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalisation for children, working age adults, and older adults.
  • Flu vaccination is an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions.
  • Flu vaccination helps protect women during and after pregnancy.
  • Flu vaccine can be lifesaving in children.
  • Flu vaccination has been shown in several studies to reduce severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick.
  • Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions.

Does a flu vaccine increase your risk of getting COVID-19?

There is no evidence that getting a flu vaccine increases your risk of getting sick from a coronavirus, like the one that causes COVID-19.

Is it safe to have a flu vaccine if I have had a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination?

Yes, and flu vaccination is important because:

  • if you’re at higher risk from coronavirus, you’re also more at risk of problems from flu
  • if you get flu and coronavirus at the same time, research shows you’re more likely to be seriously ill
  • it’ll help to reduce pressure on health care and resource and social care staff who may be dealing with coronavirus

If you’ve had COVID-19, it’s safe to have the flu vaccine. It will be as effective at helping to prevent flu.

Is it safe to have the flu vaccine at the same time as a COVID booster?
Yes. The MHRA (medicines regulator) has said it is perfectly safe to have both at the same time.

How do flu vaccines work?

Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are used to make the vaccine.

The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. The flu vaccine effectiveness can vary.

Who Should Not Be Vaccinated?

Different influenza (flu) vaccines are approved for use in different age groups. In addition, some vaccines are not recommended for certain groups of people. Factors that can determine a person’s suitability for vaccination, or vaccination with a particular vaccine, include a person’s age, health and any allergies to flu vaccine or its components. Most adults can have the flu vaccine, but you should avoid it if you have had a serious allergic reaction to a flu vaccine in the past.

You may be at risk of an allergic reaction to the flu vaccine injection if you have an egg allergy. This is because some flu vaccines are made using eggs. In this case, ask your Concierge Medical GP for a low-egg or egg-free vaccine.

If you’re ill with a high temperature, it’s best to wait until you’re better before having the flu vaccine.

Is flu vaccine safe for people who are pregnant?

You should have the flu vaccine if you’re pregnant to help protect you and your baby.

It’s safe to have the flu vaccine at any stage of pregnancy.

When should I get vaccinated?

You should get a flu vaccine before flu viruses begin spreading in your community, since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against flu. Make plans to get vaccinated early in Autumn before flu season begins. Concierge Medical recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October. Vaccination will continue to be offered throughout the flu season, even into January or later. Children who need two doses of vaccine to be protected should start the vaccination process sooner, because the two doses must be given at least four weeks apart.

Why do I need a flu vaccine every year?

A flu vaccine is needed every season for two reasons. First, a person’s immune protection from vaccination declines over time, so an annual vaccine is needed for optimal protection. Second, because flu viruses are constantly changing, flu vaccines may be updated from one season to the next to protect against the viruses that research suggests may be most common during the upcoming flu season.

Does flu vaccine work right away?

No. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza virus infection. That’s why it’s best to get vaccinated before influenza viruses start to spread in your community.

How effective is the flu vaccine?

The flu effectiveness can vary. The protection provided by a flu vaccine varies from season to season and depends in part on the age and health status of the person getting the vaccine and the similarity or match between the viruses in the vaccine and those in circulation. During years when the flu vaccine match is good, the benefits of flu vaccination will vary, depending on factors like the characteristics of the person being vaccinated and what influenza viruses are circulating that season and, potentially, which type of flu vaccine was used.

Can I get seasonal flu even though I got a flu vaccine this year?

Yes. It’s possible to get sick with flu even if you have been vaccinated (although you won’t know for sure unless you get a flu test). This is possible for the following reasons:

  • You may be exposed to a flu virus shortly before getting vaccinated or during the period that it takes the body to gain protection after getting vaccinated. This exposure may result in you becoming ill with flu before the vaccine begins to protect you. (Antibodies that provide protection develop in the body about 2 weeks after vaccination.)
  • You may be exposed to a flu virus that is not included in the seasonal flu vaccine. There are many different flu viruses that circulate every year. A flu vaccine is made to protect against the three or four flu viruses that research suggests will be most common.
  • Unfortunately, some people can become infected with a flu virus a flu vaccine is designed to protect against, despite getting vaccinated. Protection provided by flu vaccination can vary widely, based in part on health and age factors of the person getting vaccinated. In general, a flu vaccine works best among healthy younger adults and older children. Some older people and people with certain chronic illnesses may develop less immunity after vaccination. Flu vaccination is not a perfect tool, but it is the best way to protect against flu infection.

What protection does a flu vaccine provide if I do get sick with flu?

Some people who get vaccinated may still get sick. However, flu vaccination has been shown in some studies to reduce severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick.

Are there any vaccine side effects?

Flu vaccines are very safe. All adult flu vaccines are given by injection into the muscle of the upper arm.

Most side effects are mild and only last for a day or so, such as:

  • slightly raised temperature
  • muscle aches
  • sore arm where the needle went in – this is more likely to happen with the vaccine for people aged 65 and over

Try these tips to help reduce the discomfort:

  • continue to move your arm regularly
  • take a painkiller, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen – some people, including those who are pregnant, should not take ibuprofen unless a doctor recommends it

Can a flu vaccine give me flu?

No, a flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness. Flu vaccines that are administered with a needle (flu shots) are currently made in two ways: the vaccine is made either with a) flu vaccine viruses that have been killed (inactivated) and are therefore not infectious, or b) with proteins from a flu vaccine virus instead of flu vaccine viruses (which is the case for recombinant influenza vaccine). Nasal spray vaccine is made with attenuated (weakened) live flu viruses and cannot cause flu illness. The weakened viruses are cold adapted, which means they are designed to only cause infection at the cooler temperatures found within the nose. The viruses cannot infect the lungs or other areas where warmer temperatures exist.

How do I get my flu vaccine?

Annual flu vaccines are included in your membership.

Understandably we anticipate a high uptake again this year, we will be offering a co-ordinated area vaccination programme.

What are the benefits of flu vaccination?
Influenza is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalisation and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently, but millions of people get flu every year. An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect against flu.

The benefits of Flu vaccination include:

  • Flu vaccination can keep you from getting sick with flu.
  •  Flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalisation for children, working age adults, and older adults.
  • Flu vaccination is an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions.
  • Flu vaccination helps protect women during and after pregnancy.
  • Flu vaccine can be lifesaving in children.
  • Flu vaccination has been shown in several studies to reduce severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick.
  • Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions.

Does a flu vaccine increase your risk of getting COVID-19?
There is no evidence that getting a flu vaccine increases your risk of getting sick from a coronavirus, like the one that causes COVID-19.

Is it safe to have a flu vaccine if I have had a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination?
Yes, and flu vaccination is important because:

  • if you’re at higher risk from coronavirus, you’re also more at risk of problems from flu
  • if you get flu and coronavirus at the same time, research shows you’re more likely to be seriously ill
  • it’ll help to reduce pressure on health care and resource and social care staff who may be dealing with coronavirus
  • If you’ve had COVID-19, it’s safe to have the flu vaccine. It will be as effective at helping to prevent flu.

How do flu vaccines work?
Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are used to make the vaccine.
The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season.

Who Should Not Be Vaccinated?
Different influenza (flu) vaccines are approved for use in different age groups. In addition, some vaccines are not recommended for certain groups of people. Factors that can determine a person’s suitability for vaccination, or vaccination with a particular vaccine, include a person’s age, health and any allergies to flu vaccine or its components. Most adults can have the flu vaccine, but you should avoid it if you have had a serious allergic reaction to a flu vaccine in the past.
You may be at risk of an allergic reaction to the flu vaccine injection if you have an egg allergy. This is because some flu vaccines are made using eggs. In this case, ask your Concierge Medical GP for a low-egg or egg-free vaccine.
If you’re ill with a high temperature, it’s best to wait until you’re better before having the flu vaccine.

Is flu vaccine safe for people who are pregnant?
You should have the flu vaccine if you’re pregnant to help protect you and your baby.
It’s safe to have the flu vaccine at any stage of pregnancy.

When should I get vaccinated?
You should get a flu vaccine before flu viruses begin spreading in your community, since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against flu. Make plans to get vaccinated early in Autumn before flu season begins. Concierge Medical recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October. Vaccination will continue to be offered throughout the flu season, even into January or later. Children who need two doses of vaccine to be protected should start the vaccination process sooner, because the two doses must be given at least four weeks apart.

Why do I need a flu vaccine every year?
A flu vaccine is needed every season for two reasons. First, a person’s immune protection from vaccination declines over time, so an annual vaccine is needed for optimal protection. Second, because flu viruses are constantly changing, flu vaccines may be updated from one season to the next to protect against the viruses that research suggests may be most common during the upcoming flu season.

Does flu vaccine work right away?
No. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza virus infection. That’s why it’s best to get vaccinated before influenza viruses start to spread in your community.

How effective is the flu vaccine?
The flu effectiveness can vary. The protection provided by a flu vaccine varies from season to season and depends in part on the age and health status of the person getting the vaccine and the similarity or match between the viruses in the vaccine and those in circulation. During years when the flu vaccine match is good, the benefits of flu vaccination will vary, depending on factors like the characteristics of the person being vaccinated and what influenza viruses are circulating that season and, potentially, which type of flu vaccine was used.

Can I get seasonal flu even though I got a flu vaccine this year?
Yes. It’s possible to get sick with flu even if you have been vaccinated (although you won’t know for sure unless you get a flu test). This is possible for the following reasons:

  • You may be exposed to a flu virus shortly before getting vaccinated or during the period that it takes the body to gain protection after getting vaccinated. This exposure may result in you becoming ill with flu before the vaccine begins to protect you. (Antibodies that provide protection develop in the body about 2 weeks after vaccination).
  • You may be exposed to a flu virus that is not included in the seasonal flu vaccine. There are many different flu viruses that circulate every year. A flu vaccine is made to protect against the three or four flu viruses that research suggests will be most common.
  • Unfortunately, some people can become infected with a flu virus a flu vaccine is designed to protect against, despite getting vaccinated. Protection provided by flu vaccination can vary widely, based in part on health and age factors of the person getting vaccinated. In general, a flu vaccine works best among healthy younger adults and older children. Some older people and people with certain chronic illnesses may develop less immunity after vaccination. Flu vaccination is not a perfect tool, but it is the best way to protect against flu infection.

What protection does a flu vaccine provide if I do get sick with flu?
Some people who get vaccinated may still get sick. However, flu vaccination has been shown in some studies to reduce severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick.

Are there any vaccine side effects?
Flu vaccines are very safe. All adult flu vaccines are given by injection into the muscle of the upper arm. Most side effects are mild and only last for a day or so, such as:

  • slightly raised temperature
  • muscle aches
  • sore arm where the needle went in – this is more likely to happen with the vaccine for people aged 65 and over

Try these tips to help reduce the discomfort:

  • continue to move your arm regularly
  • take a painkiller, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen – some people, including those who are pregnant, should not take ibuprofen unless a doctor recommends it

Can a flu vaccine give me flu?
No, a flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness. Flu vaccines that are administered with a needle (flu shots) are currently made in two ways: the vaccine is made either with a) flu vaccine viruses that have been killed (inactivated) and are therefore not infectious, or b) with proteins from a flu vaccine virus instead of flu vaccine viruses (which is the case for recombinant influenza vaccine). Nasal spray vaccine is made with attenuated (weakened) live flu viruses and cannot cause flu illness. The weakened viruses are cold adapted, which means they are designed to only cause infection at the cooler temperatures found within the nose. The viruses cannot infect the lungs or other areas where warmer temperatures exist.

How do I get my flu vaccine?
Annual flu vaccines are complimentary to Concierge Medical members.
Understandably we anticipate a high uptake again this year, we will be offering a co-ordinated area vaccination programme so please register via your member newsletter link or via the practice number.

 

Concierge Medical –

info@conciergemedical.co.uk

www.conciergemedical.co.uk