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 respiratory disease

If you have any kind of chronic respiratory disease, avoiding all infections that could worsen your symptoms or make breathing more difficult is important, and this includes the flu.

Flu can also worsen your condition and symptoms1 and lead to hospitalisation. People with chronic respiratory disease account for around 17% of deaths from flu each year2.

These respiratory diseases include (amongst others)3:

  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Emphysema

 

Help to protect 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 chronic respiratory disease, you are eligible for a free flu vaccination on the NHS as you are classified at high risk of complications3. Get vaccinated as soon as possible, ideally before the end of November, to ensure you’re protected right through the winter5.

Research showed that patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who were vaccinated against the flu suffered fewer exacerbations, hospitalisations, and outpatient visits, as well as lower mortality6.

 

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. 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. Department of Health. An Outcomes Strategy for COPD and Asthma: NHS Companion Document. May 2012. Available online:
    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_
    data/file/216531/dh_134001.pdf
     (accessed July 2018)
  3. NHS Choices. Who should have the flu vaccine. July 2016. Available online: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/pages/who-should-have-flu-vaccine.aspx (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)
  6. Bekkat-Berkani R et al. Seasonal influenza vaccination in patients with COPD: a systematic literature review. BMC Pulmonary Medicine. 2017;17:1-15.

Adverse Event Reporting

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