Healthcare Professionals

This section is intended for healthcare professionals and associated healthcare employees in the UK only – this includes GPs, nurses, practice managers, GP practice administration support, pharmacists and pharmacy counter assistants.

If you are not a healthcare professional or healthcare employee, you should not enter this section – information regarding flu can be found on the main website.

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Flu Risks And Immunosuppression

Immunosuppression refers to a reduction in the effectiveness of your immune system. This can happen for several reasons:

  • A range of medications for autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease)
  • Cancer treatments like chemotherapy
  • Diseases such as HIV, which suppress the entire immune system

Immunosuppression can even be induced deliberately if you have an organ or bone marrow transplant, to prevent your body rejecting the new organ or cells.

However it is caused, having a weak immune system puts you at a greater risk of catching or developing infections and this includes flu1. It also puts you at a greater risk of developing complications from flu, such as secondary lung infections or pneumonia1.

 

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, as this is when you are most vulnerable.

Vaccination is the most effective way to avoid developing the flu2, and if you have immunosuppression, for whatever reason, you are eligible for a free flu vaccination on the NHS. Get vaccinated early – from October to early November – to ensure you’re protected right through the winter.

 

Other ways to avoid infection

If you have immunosuppression, your doctor may have already advised you to avoid crowded public places (particularly enclosed spaces such as restaurants and shops) to reduce your risk of contact with people who may have flu or any other infections.

If you’re unable to avoid public transport, try and wash your hands regularly (for example, after every trip), cover your nose and mouth if you sneeze or cough, and dispose of any used tissues as quickly as possible. If you live with other people, or you have regular visitors, it’s also a good idea for them to receive a flu vaccination too, to reduce the risk of them passing the virus onto you.

 

You can get your free flu vaccination* at your GP surgery or in a pharmacy. Most pharmacies in the UK now offer both the NHS free flu jab as well as a private jab. This might be a more convenient option for you. Enter your postcode in the search box above to find your nearest local flu clinic.

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

 

References

1. Kunisaki K et al. Influenza in immunosuppressed populations: a review of infection frequency, morbidity, mortality, and vaccine responses. Lancet Infect Dis. 2009;9(8):493–504.

2.World Health Organisation. Influenza (Seasonal) Fact Sheet No. 211, November 2016. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs211/en/index.html (accessed July 2017)

 

Adverse Event Reporting

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