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 liver disease

If you suffer from chronic liver conditions or liver disease, you will probably already have had to make changes to your lifestyle to try and stay as healthy as possible – this includes avoiding the flu.

Many people think of flu as just a bad cold, but if you have liver disease, it could make you seriously ill. You are particularly at risk of flu developing into something more serious1.

Having liver disease weakens your immune system’s ability to fight off the flu virus in the first place2 and it may limit the type of medications you can take for cold and flu symptoms3.

But even more seriously, having flu can also actually make liver diseases such as cirrhosis worse3, or even increase the rate of rejection and drug toxicity if you have had a liver transplant3. So it’s really important to do everything you can to stay healthy.

 

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.

Get vaccinated as soon as possible, ideally before the end of November, to ensure you’re protected right through the winter4. Patients most at risk include those waiting for a liver transplant or those who have cirrhosis3.

 

Other ways to avoid infection

To avoid infections, 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. British Liver Trust. Get the flu jab. Available online: https://www.britishlivertrust.org.uk/our-work/campaigns/get-the-jab/ (accessed July 2018)
  2. New York State DOH. You, Liver Disease and the Flu. Available online: https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/2448.pdf (accessed July 2018)
  3. Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee. Flu Vaccinations and Chronic Liver Disease. July 2016. Available online: http://psnc.org.uk/avon-lpc/wp-content/uploads/sites/23/2015/07/Liver-Disease-and-Flu-Vaccine-Importance.pdf (accessed July 2018)
  4. 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