Flu Vaccinations

Vaccination against pneumonia and influenza is commonly given to groups, such as the elderly or very young, or those who are most at risk.

The flu vaccine changes every year to fight the latest strains of flu, so even if you had a jab last winter you need another one this year to stay flu safe. The jab doesn’t contain the ‘live’ virus so it cannot give you the flu.

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The flu vaccine is available for free on the NHS for:

  • anyone over the age of 65 
  • pregnant women
  • children and adults with an underlying health condition (particularly long-term heart or lung disease)
  • children and adults with weakened immune systems
  • An annual flu vaccine nasal spray is also now offered to healthy children aged two, three and four years old, and to children in school years one and two. 

Although Steroid Dependent patients, (whether Primary Addison’s or Secondary pituitary) are not mentioned in these lists you definitely fall under the umbrella of requiring the vaccinations.

Remember, your steroids are a replacement therapy and therefore will not cause any interaction or problem with the vaccines.

When should I have it?

The best time to have the vaccine is in the autumn, between September and early November there is no actual deadline but, where possible, should be completed before flu starts circulating in the community

Will I get any side effects?

Serious side effects of the flu vaccine are very rare. You may have a slight temperature and aching muscles for a couple of days after having the jab, and your arm may be a bit sore where you were injected. It is unlikely that you will require to increase your steroids during this time unless the symptoms persist and you are becoming increasingly unwell.

There is also the pneumococcal vaccine (or 'pneumo jab' or pneumonia vaccine as it's also known) which protects against pneumococcal infections

Who should have the pneumococcal vaccine? 

A pneumococcal infection can affect anyone. However, some people need the pneumococcal vaccination because they are at higher risk of complications.

These include:

  • all children under the age of two
  • adults aged 65 or over
  • children and adults with certain long-term health conditions, such as a serious heart or kidney condition
  • Please seek advice from your GP or Endocrinologist if you are unsure whether or not you should have it.
  • This vaccine is not given annually like the flu jab.
  • People with a long-term health condition may need just a single one-off pneumococcal vaccination or five-yearly vaccination depending on their underlying health problem.

The aim when you are steroid dependent is to protect yourself against illness if at all possible and therefore this is where getting vaccinated gives you the best chance of avoiding infections.

Your recovery, if you succumb to a serious infection can be longer and more complex when you are steroid dependent.

Top tips:

  • Basic hygiene plays an important part in preventing the spread of infection
  • Washing and drying your hands properly
  • Use of hand sanitisers especially when out and about in the community
  • Use disposable tissues as opposed to cloth handkerchiefs

Some Flu facts:

  • The flu jab can’t give you flu
  • The flu jab is perfectly safe
  • The flu virus changes, so you need a flu jab every year
  • If you’re pregnant, the flu jab doesn’t harm your unborn baby. In fact it can protect your baby from flu for the first few months of life
  • The flu jab isn’t just for older people – pregnant women, those with health conditions, carers, and those with weakened immunity should all get the jab
  • The flu jab protects people of all ages
  • Flu isn’t just a cold, it can be a really serious illness.

 

For more information, speak to your GP or local pharmacist, or visit http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/flu/Pages/Introduction.aspx