Blog by Councillors Tracey Huffer and Andy Boddington. This article has been written with the support of Portcullis and Station Drive Surgeries.
This year we face what may prove to be the deadliest disease of our lifetimes. The coronavirus epidemic is far from over and cases are rising across the country. Faced with Covid-19, why then bother with a vaccination against flu? Especially as the arrangements for a jab are different this year.
This article explains why flu jabs are essential. Why you should not fear a jab. What the arrangements are in Ludlow. And how you can get flu jab near you.
The thought of a flu epidemic coinciding with a second wave of Covid-19 is frightening. Every year, our hospitals are strained as patients are admitted with severe flu. Most winters we read and hear of how stretched A&E and ward services have become.
We are not clairvoyants. We can’t guess how serious the spread of flu will be this winter. But with Covid-19 cases rising locally and nationally, we know we need to keep flu levels as low as we possibly can.
We have spoken to a few people of late who think that flu jab gives them the flu. That can’t happen because the vaccine does not contain a live virus. It cannot cause flu. Some people may get a slight temperature and aching muscles for a couple of days afterwards. Your arm may feel a bit sore after you have had the injection. But most people walk away immediately forgetting that they have had a jab. Severe reactions to the jab are extremely rare.
In the past, flu jabs were given in GP Surgeries or a local hall. But if flu was already around the community, asymptomatic people waiting in the queue for a jab could spread the disease. This might be one of the reasons why some people say the jab gave them flu.
Andy Boddington says:
“This might have happened to me around ten years ago. I always have the jab but I got real flu. It was not a so-called man cold. It took all my effort to lift a glass of water to limit my dehydration. It was incredibly cold that winter. My central heating had broken down and I sat in front of a gas fire for two weeks. It took me three months to recover. But I haven’t lost my faith in the effectiveness of flu jabs and still ensure I get one every year.”
If you can’t get to the venue allocated by your GP, alternative arrangements will be made. You will be given another date and time at another location. For those that cannot get out because they have mobility issues or are vulnerable in other ways, home visits can be arranged.
Tracey Huffer says:
“The way we deliver our medical services is always changing. The pace of change feels faster this year because social distancing has become a priority. I would urge everyone who has ben advised to have a flu jab to take up the offer as soon as they can.”
It will take some time to vaccinate all those in the Ludlow area that need it. GPs are working hard but a lot depends on the supply of vaccine.
It is vital that everyone who is advised to get a jab has one. That will protect their health and the health of our community.
Social distanced vaccination is something we need to get used to. It helps limit the spread of flu between people. It helps protect people from Covid-19.
We need to be prepared for the coming winter and flu jabs are an essential part of that preparation.
The main points
- Vaccination this year is socially distanced. You’ll get a jab in a marquee outside a GP surgery or at Ludlow Racecourse, at your surgery or another location. That means you will have a very low chance of picking up a cold, flu or Covid from any other person while you wait.
- The main circulating strain of flu is well matched to this year’s vaccine and is expected to be effective.
- The inactivated flu vaccine does not contain the live virus and cannot cause flu. Flu vaccines have a very good safety record. Any side effects can last between 1-2 days.
- Flu vaccine is effective at reducing hospital admissions. For example, during 2018-2019 flu vaccination prevented an estimated 58,000 flu-related hospitalisations in the US.
- There is some evidence a double infection with coronavirus and flu is more deadly than either alone.
- A big flu season combined with coronavirus could overwhelm hospitals (PHE 2020)
- If lots of NHS or care-home staff are sick with flu, then it may not be possible to respond to Covid-19 in the same way as during the peak in spring. (PHE 2020)
Flu vaccinations are also available from local pharmacies subject to capacity and supply of vaccine.