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 who have suffered a stroke

If you have had a stroke, you are at increased risk of developing severe complications from flu1. This is because your heart is working harder to combat the flu virus and is under increased stress2.

So if you have had a stroke, or you are caring for someone who has, it is important to protect them from the risk of contracting flu.

Flu itself may also increase the risk of having a stroke in the first place3.

 

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 flu4, and if you have have had a stroke, you are eligible for a free flu vaccination on the NHS.

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

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 (for example, if you need to get to hospital for treatment or an appointment), 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.

 

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. Flu and Heart Disease & Stroke. August 2016. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/heartdisease/ (accessed July 2018)
  2. British Heart Foundation. Cold Weather and Your Heart. Available online: https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/living-with-a-heart-condition/weather-and-your-heart/cold-weather (accessed July 2018)
  3. Siriwardena AN et al. Influenza and pneumococcal vaccination and risk of stroke or transient ischemic attack – Matched case control study. Vaccine. 2014;32(12):1354-61
  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