The 'Flu Vaccine (influenza)                                                                                                  20 November 2020

Dear Patients

We are delighted to share more information about this winter’s ‘flu clinics.

We have successfully managed to secure early ‘flu vaccination deliveries for patients to help protect you and those around you this winter.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year the majority of our ‘flu vaccinations will be given in our Drive/Walk-Thru marquees. We are grateful to our staff and volunteers from Friends of Fordingbridge Surgery Patient Group who will help us guide patients through these clinics.

If you have received an invitation letter from the surgery to book a flu vaccination, please call after 11am on weekdays to book and press option 6.

Details for eligible patients under the age of 65 in NHS defined at risk groups.

The Department of Health and Social Care, Public Health England (PHE) and the NHS have published a leaflet for the public, which explains why some people eligible for flu vaccination are being asked to wait to get vaccinated. Please click here to access the leaflet.

You will be invited to book a walk thru 'flu appointment in our purposely erected marquee. Covid at risk patients will be offered a drive thru 'flu appointment. 

Sadly there will be no tea and biscuits (blame Covid!), however if you would like to donate to the Friends of Fordingbridge Surgery who have provided our marquees, please click on the Facebook link here or bring cash or card with you on the day of your appointment to donate.

If you are aged between 50 and 64 and not in a clinical at risk group, the earliest you will be offered a flu vaccination is December, providing there is sufficient vaccine.  No appointments will be offered for people in this age group until then. This is to ensure that those who are most at risk are vaccinated first. 

You will no doubt have seem on the news on 20 November 2020 that the government have issued a press release advising adults over the age of 50, (not previously eligible for 'flu vaccine) that they may get their 'free' 'flu vaccine from 01 December 2020 in the next phase of this years expanded vaccination programme from GPs or pharmacies.

As so many times previously, this has been on the news before we have received notification!

We are examining the guidance today to see when/where we can obtain the vaccine to administer to this cohort of patients.  Note - the few vaccines we have left over from our previous cohorts are not to be used for this group of patients.

You may have received a letter from NHS England reminding you to book an appointment for a 'flu vaccination. If you have not received an invitation from the surgery to book your 'flu vaccine, please wait until you do. The Practice is awaiting further guidance from NHS England and when we are likely to be able to order further vaccines.

We have since found out that those of you that received a letter from NHSE during the week beginning 26 October 2020 may have received this in error.

Please read the following Statement of apology from NHSE/I  that was sent to the Practice on 30 October, 2020:

"Due to a technical error, the national flu invitation letters have been sent to a subset of patients incorrectly identified as at risk by using a glandular fever code. 

This situation has been escalated to the NHS England and Improvement’s central team which is investigating the cause of the error and is putting a communications plan together.

This will include guidance to help you explain what has happened to patients who contact you.  
 
As soon as the guidance has been forwarded to us by the national team, we will send it on to you.  
 
We would like to offer our sincere apologies to affected practices for the additional workload, stress and inconvenience this has caused you and your patients".   

If you are aged 50 to 64 and are in a clinical ‘at risk’ group which is eligible for the flu vaccination, for example you have a health condition which puts you at risk from the flu, you will be invited earlier.

How long do side effects last once a 'flu vaccine has been administered?

The following information is from the NHS.UK website

A 'flu vaccine can take 10 -14 days to work. Most side effects are mild and only last for a day or so,

side effects include:

  • slightly raised temperature
  • muscle aches
  • sore arm where the needle went in (more likely to happen in the 65 and over category)

If you would like to volunteer to help with our flu clinics, please email the Friends Patient Group fofs.ppg@nhs.net and click here for more information.

Thank you from all at The Fordingbridge Surgery.

Flu vaccination is available every year on the NHS to help protect adults and children at risk of flu and its complications.

Flu can be unpleasant, but if you are otherwise healthy it will usually clear up on its own within a week.

However, flu can be more severe in certain people, such as:

  • anyone aged 65 and over
  • pregnant women
  • children and adults with an underlying health condition (such as long-term heart or respiratory disease)
  • children and adults with weakened immune systems

Anyone in an at risk group is more likely to develop potentially serious complications of flu, such as pneumonia (a lung infection), so it's recommended that they have a flu vaccine every year to help protect them.

Who should get the flu vaccine?

The flu vaccine is routinely given on the NHS to:

  • children aged 2 and 3
  • children in reception class and school years 1 - 7 (these are given in school)
  • children aged 2 to 17 years in at risk groups

If your child is aged between 6 months and 2 years old and is in a high-risk group for flu, they will be offered an injected flu vaccine as the nasal spray is not licensed for children under 2.

Letters went out to the youngest cohort on 9 September 2020 and the surgery is offering nasal flu vaccinations to all children that come in for their pre-school vaccination.

Please wait for your child's letter before attempting to book for a nasal flu appointment and make sure that you bring the consent form when you bring your child to their appointment.

Find out more about who should have the flu vaccine.

65 and overs and the flu vaccine

You are eligible for the flu vaccine this year (2020/21) if you will be aged 65 and over on March 31 2021 – that is, you were born on or before March 31 1956. So, if you are currently 64 but will be 65 on March 31 2021, you do qualify.

Find out more about the flu vaccine for those aged 65 and over

How effective is the flu vaccine?

Flu vaccine is the best protection we have against an unpredictable virus that can cause unpleasant illness in children and severe illness and death among at-risk groups, including older people, pregnant women and those with an underlying medical health condition.

Studies have shown that the flu vaccine will help prevent you getting the flu. It won't stop all flu viruses and the level of protection may vary, so it's not a 100% guarantee that you'll be flu-free, but if you do get flu after vaccination it's likely to be milder and shorter-lived than it would otherwise have been.

There is also evidence to suggest that the flu vaccine can reduce your risk of having a stroke.

Over time, protection from the injected flu vaccine gradually decreases and flu strains often change. So new flu vaccines are produced each year, which is why people advised to have the flu vaccine need it every year too.

Read more about how the flu vaccine works

Flu vaccine side effects

Serious side effects of the injected flu vaccine are very rare. You may have a mild fever and aching muscles for a couple of days after having the vaccine, and your arm may be a bit sore where you were injected.

Side effects of the nasal spray vaccine may commonly include a runny or blocked nose, headache, tiredness and some loss of appetite.

Read more about the side effects of the flu vaccine

How safe is the flu vaccine?

The flu vaccines used in the national programme have a good safety record.

When to have a flu vaccine

The best time to have a flu vaccine is in the autumn, from the beginning of October to end of November, but don't worry if you've missed it, you can have the vaccine later in winter. Ask your GP or pharmacist.

Each year, the viruses that are most likely to cause flu are identified in advance and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends which type of flu virus strains to include in the vaccine.

This information has been taken from the NHS website 

flu vaccine FAQs