Protect yourself and your family against the flu.
With children heading back to school and nursery this week, we are urging parents and carers to return flu vaccination consent forms swiftly to ensure their child is protected from the common virus.
In the first week of term school bags will be overflowing with consent forms and letters, local health officials are asking parents to dig deep into their child’s bags to find and return flu vaccination consent forms.
Last year, 60% of two and three year olds in Brighton and Hove missed out on the child-friendly, quick and painless nasal spray flu vaccine, putting them at risk of becoming seriously ill with flu, and risking their wider family’s health.
12 under 18 year olds ended up in hospital in Brighton and Hove last year due to flu. Those children needing medical care due to flu caused extra strain on local hospitals last year and cost the NHS more than £42,000. Local doctors believe this could have been avoided had those eligible taken up the opportunity to get their free jab.
Flu can be a very unpleasant illness causing fever, stuffy nose dry cough, sore throat, aching muscles and joints and extreme tiredness, which can often last several days and requires parents and carers to take time off work to care for them.
Some children can get a very high fever, sometimes without the usual flu symptoms, and may need to go to hospital for treatment. Serious complications of flu include a painful ear infection, acute bronchitis and pneumonia.
Flu Myth Busting
MYTH: the flu can’t kill you
For the majority of people who catch it, flu is unpleasant but not life threatening. However, for some it can lead to chest infections, severe complications and even death. Globally, seasonal flu accounts for about three to five million causes of severe illness per year and between 250,000 and 500,000 deaths.
Influenza is a highly transmissible infection. The patient population found in hospital is much more vulnerable to the severe effects of influenza. Healthcare workers may transmit the illness to patients even if they are mildly or sub-clinically infected. There are reports of influenza outbreaks within hospitals and other care settings where transmission from healthcare workers to patients is likely to have caused spread of the disease.
MYTH: The flu vaccine is not safe
The risk of having a serious (anaphylactic) reaction to the seasonal flu vaccine is less than one in a million: much lower than the risk of getting seriously ill from having the flu itself. If you have had a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to a flu vaccine before, please talk to a clinician before getting vaccinated. If you have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to hens’ eggs, you should enquire about vaccines with a very low egg content and be vaccinated under clinical supervision. Seasonal flu vaccine is given to millions of people in the UK each year. The specific strains of flu that are included may change from one year to the next but vaccines are still thoroughly tested and are safe.
MYTH: The flu jab can give you the flu
It is impossible to get flu from the having the flu jab because the vaccine doesn’t contain live viruses. A very small number of people experience side effects such as aching muscles, but this is simply their immune system responding to the vaccine.
MYTH: The side effects of the vaccination are worse than the flu itself
For the most part, seasonal flu vaccine side effects are mild or often non-existent. The most common side effect is soreness around the site of the injection and occasionally aching muscles. These symptoms are a lot less debilitating than having flu.
MYTH: Health professionals do not need have the vaccine to protect patients
Vaccination isn’t just about keeping yourself safe, it’s about protecting your colleagues, your family and your patients. You can carry and pass the virus on to others without having any symptoms yourself, so even if you consider yourself healthy, you might be risking the lives of others.
MYTH: You don’t need the vaccine every year
If you were vaccinated last year, you helped to fight the flu and took an extra step towards excellent patient care. Please do the same again this year as you won’t be protected against the new strains of circulating flu.
MYTH: The vaccination does not work
The World Health Organization cites clean water and vaccination as the two interventions that have the greatest impact on public health. Trivalent seasonal influenza vaccines generally give 60–80 per cent protection against infection.
MYTH: Pregnant women can’t be vaccinated
Pregnant women can have the flu vaccination at any stage of their pregnancy. Having the vaccination when pregnant is beneficial and helps protect the baby from flu over the first few months of life.
MYTH: Healthy diets alone prevent flu
Your diet could well be helping to boost your immune system, but eating well will not protect you from flu. The best way to protect yourself, your family and your patients against flu is by getting the flu jab.
MYTH: Not everyone can get the flu
One of the most common reasons staff give for not getting vaccinated is ‘I’ve never had flu before’.
There’s no such thing as natural immunity to influenza. With new strains circulating this year, it’s best to get vaccinated against flu.