This week we have sent out invitation letters to patients who are eligible for flu, pneumococcal and shingles vaccinations.
Flu is a very contagious infection which can cause serious illness and fatality among people aged over 65 and those of any age with particular medical conditions or taking certain drugs including methotrexate. It is also recommended for carers. The best way to protect yourself against flu is by having the flu jab every year. Even if you’ve already had a flu jab in previous years, you need another one this year. This is because the viruses that cause flu are always changing. The vaccine does not contain any live virus, so it cannot cause flu. The vaccine is very safe. The only reason not to be vaccinated is if you have a serious allergy to hens’ eggs.
Pneumococcal vaccination. The pneumococcal vaccine protects against serious and potentially fatal pneumococcal infections caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae which can lead to pneumonia, septicaemia (a kind of blood poisoning) and meningitis. At their worst, they can cause permanent brain damage, or even kill. A pneumococcal infection can affect anyone. However, some people are at higher risk of serious illness and can be given the pneumococcal vaccination on the NHS and we have invited in those patients identified as falling into this higher risk group.
Shingles (also called herpes zoster) is a disease that is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. Most of us have had chickenpox when we were younger, even if we did not know we had had it. The virus stays in our bodies for the rest of our lives and can reactivate when we get older, causing shingles. Shingles is caused by the reactivation of an infection of a nerve and causes a range of symptoms, depending on where it appears on your body. These often include a rash and clusters of painful, itchy, fluid-filled blisters. Eyesight can also be affected, if it develops in the eye. It can leave people with on-going, severe pain called post-herpetic neuralgia. This pain can last for several months or even years and can be bad enough to need to be admitted to hospital. About one in five people who have had chickenpox develop shingles. It is more common in people over 70 years old but the vaccine is less effective in people aged over 80.
We have reserved the vaccinations for our eligible patients and, for the vast majority of doses, we will not able to get a refund on the cost of the vaccine if we do not vaccinate you in general practice. Further more, receiving your vaccine at the surgery will ensure your medical record is immediately up-to-date.
If you are due to see your GP or nurse in the next 8 weeks, and you have received one of our invitation letters, please ask them for your vaccines at that appointment. Otherwise, we are running clinics at our Langley House Surgery as follows:-
Sat 22ndSeptember 9 am – 12 noon for shingles patients
Sat 29th September 9 am – 12 noon for flu for patients aged under 65 (and pneumococcal)
Sat 3rd November 9 am to 1 pm for flu (and pneumococcal) for patients aged over 65
Please note we usually get 100% of all our flus jabs delivered in September but this year there is a special vaccine designed for patients aged over 65. Every GP surgery is subject to a nationally decided delivery schedule, spread out between September and November, hence the delay in our clinic date for patients aged over 65. Please also note that at the time of writing, there are national supply issues with pneumococcal and if we are unfortunately unable to give you a pneumococcal jab when you attend for your flu jab, it will be due to circumstances outside of our control