FOR UK HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS ONLY

This section is intended for healthcare professionals and associated healthcare employees who are involved in patient care or service provision for influenza immunisation in the UK only – this includes (but is not limited to) GPs, nurses, practice managers, pharmacists, and pharmacy counter assistants.

I AM A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL OR ASSOCIATED HEALTHCARE EMPLOYEE I AM NOT A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL OR ASSOCIATED HEALTHCARE EMPLOYEE

Risks from flu in people with chronic neurological disease

If you have a chronic neurological disease, or you care for someone who has, you need to keep a close eye on your or their overall health and wellbeing. This includes avoiding infections such as flu, which can have serious complications for people with neurological diseases1 such as:

  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Motor Neurone Disease
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Wilson’s Disease
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Some of these neurological conditions affect the lungs and make breathing difficult2. Flu is a respiratory virus which can make breathing even more difficult3, and can also result in serious secondary infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia1; which can lead to a hospital stay and a long recovery3.

Neurological conditions can also make it hard for you to regulate your body temperature3. If you catch flu, you are likely to develop a fever, which can make your symptoms worse3. For example, one third of people with relapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis will experience a relapse within 6 weeks of having flu3.

Some people with neurological conditions may also find it hard to express themselves and tell if they feel unwell3. This can delay treatment, which could also make their symptoms worse3. So it’s important to prevent them from contracting flu in the first place.

 

Protecting yourself from flu

The flu viruses predominantly circulate during the winter. So you should think about how to help protect yourself as the flu season approaches.

Vaccination is the most effective way to avoid developing the flu4, and if you have a chronic neurological disease, you are eligible for a free flu vaccination on the NHS.

Getting a flu vaccination doesn’t just help protect you, it can also help to prevent you spreading the flu to your spouse, children and grandchildren. If you have a carer or home help, it is worth asking them to get vaccinated too, as this will also reduce your risk of infection.

 

Other ways to avoid infection

You can also take additional steps, such as avoiding public transport and crowds. However, if you’re unable to avoid public transport, wash your hands after every trip, use the antiseptic hand gel dispensers in the hospital regularly, cover your nose and mouth if you sneeze or cough, and dispose of any used tissues as quickly as possible.

 

Get vaccinated as soon as possible, ideally before the end of November, to ensure you’re protected right through the winter5.

You can get your free NHS flu vaccination* at your GP surgery or in a pharmacy, while most pharmacies in the UK also offer private jabs.

*Free NHS jabs are available only to those who fall within the current risk categories.

 

References

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People at High Risk of Developing Flu-Related Complications. August 2018. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/high_risk.htm (accessed September 2018)
  2. Mangera Z et al. Practical approach to management of respiratory complications in neurological disorders. Int J Gen Med. 2012;5:255–63.
  3. South West Screening & Immunisation Team. Flu Vaccinations and Chronic Neurological Disease. Available online: http://www.southdevonandtorbayccg.nhs.uk/your-health/Documents/Neurological%20Disease%20and%20Flu%20Vaccine%
    20Importance.pdf
    (accessed July 2018)
  4. World Health Organization. Influenza (Seasonal) Fact Sheet, January 2018. Available online: http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/influenza-(seasonal) (accessed July 2018)
  5. Public Health England. National flu immunisation programme plan for 2018 to 2019. March 2018. Available online: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-flu-immunisation-programme-plan (accessed July 2018)

Adverse Event Reporting

I AM A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL OR ASSOCIATED EMPLOYEE I AM NOT A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL OR ASSOCIATED EMPLOYEE