Flu Vaccinations (Seasonal Influenza)

Seasonal influenza can be very dangerous to some patients, especially those with underlying health conditions and those over 65.

Non-urgent advice: Flu Clinics AWAITING UPDATE

We are currently awaiting further guidance on how the Seasonal Flu campaign will be run in Wakefield this year. We will update our patients and send invitations as soon as we have further information.

The flu season generally runs from late September to early March. The vaccine is the most effective if delivered before the end of November, however it will provide protection to you personally no matter how late in the season you have it.

Flu Clinics

Every year we run Flu Clinics starting around the end of September. Eligible patients will be asked to contact the surgery to either book an appointment or to let us know that they do not want the vaccination that year. Even if you decline one year, we will still invite you the following year unless there is a reason you do not become eligible. You can even change your mind in the same season if you decide you want to receive your vaccination.

Flu clinics usually run until November, at which point we hope we will have vaccinated all patients who want it. However, this doesn’t mean that you cannot have it after that date should you choose to. We will always try and accommodate our at-risk patients while ever we have the vaccines in stock. This includes if you become eligible throughout the flu season for whatever reason.

Eligibility

There are guidelines on which groups are eligible for the flu vaccination every year. These guidelines can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/annual-flu-programme (please note this guidance is aimed at healthcare professionals but is publicly available)

This list is not definitive though and if you feel you are clinically eligible but do not fit into any of these risk groups, a GP or Nurse may override this and decide it is clinically appropriate for you to receive the flu vaccination. Please contact us if you are unsure.

A brief overview of the eligible groups are:

  • Older people (those who will be 50 or over by 31st March of that flu season)
  • the very young
  • pregnant women
  • those with respiratory conditions, such as asthma (needing steroid inhaler or tablets), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema and bronchitis
  • those with diabetes
  • those with heart conditions, such as coronary heart disease or heart failure
  • patients that are very overweight – a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above
  • those with chronic kidney disease
  • those with liver disease, such as hepatitis
  • those with neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), or cerebral palsy
  • those with a learning disability
  • those with problems with the spleen, for example, sickle cell disease, or if you have had your spleen removed
  • those who are immunosuppressed or have a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or taking medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy

In the 2020/21 flu season, it was also recommended having the flu vaccine if you were in any of the below groups. We are still awaiting guidance for the 21/22 season.

  • The main carer of an older or disabled person
  • a household contact of someone on the shielded patients list for COVID-19
  • a child aged 2 to 11 years old on 31 August 2020

Getting your Flu Vaccination

You should attend your appointment as close to the time you have been given.

If you are unwell on the day, please contact us to cancel as the vaccine should not be administered when you are unwell with a high temperature.

Please wear clothing that is easy to remove and/or have your upper arm accessible. (this is not relevant for those patients receiving the nasal flu vaccine)

Types of Vaccine

There are a number of different vaccines available to help prevent seasonal influenza. These are generally based the age of the patient however there are some exceptions to this. The 3 main vaccines that we use are:

A full list of vaccines available can be found at the link below, however, please be aware that we order our vaccinations a year in advance so we may not be able to get stock of a particular vaccine.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/891140/Oval_albumin_table_2020_to_2021.pdf

Flu Vaccinations and Egg Allergies

Patients with a true egg allergy should discuss the flu vaccination with us.

All of our routine vaccinations contain a low level of ovalbumin which is an egg product in low quantities. However, if you are eligible for your flu vaccination this should not stop you receiving it. The content in all vaccines can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/influenza-vaccine-ovalbumin-content

We may be able to access an alternative vaccine for those patients who are contraindicated to the vaccine in their age group.

Porcine Content

The LAIV nasal spray designed for those under 18 contains a highly processed form of gelatine derived from pigs. Some groups do not accept the use of porcine gelatine in medical products and for some children and young people, an alternative, inactivated influenza vaccine may be available as an alternative. Please contact the surgery to discuss this.

Side Effects and Allergic Reactions

Side effects of the flu vaccine are usually very mild and may be;

  • 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

Over the counter medication can be taken for pain relief and moving your arms regularly may relieve muscle aches at the injection site.

It is rare that anyone has a serious anaphylactic reaction to the flu vaccination. If this happens it will usually be within minutes of having the vaccination. All our clinical staff are trained to deal with this, and we always have treatment on hand to treat you immediately.