Winter measures – flu Jabs, shingles vaccination

Shingles vaccination

A vaccine to prevent shingles, a common, painful skin disease is now available on the NHS to certain people in their 70s.

 The shingles vaccine is given as a single injection for anyone aged 70 or 79. Unlike the flu jab, you’ll only need to have the vaccination once.

The vaccine is expected to reduce your risk of getting shingles. If you are unlucky enough to go on to have the disease, your symptoms may be milder and the illness shorter.

Shingles can be very painful and uncomfortable. Some people are left with pain lasting for years after the initial rash has healed. And shingles is fatal for around 1 in 1,000 over-70s who develop it.

It’s fine to have the shingles vaccine if you’ve already had shingles. The shingles vaccine works very well in people who have had shingles before and it will boost your immunity against further shingles attacks.

What is shingles?

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a painful skin rash caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox virus (varicella-zoster virus) in people who have previously had chickenpox.

It begins with a burning sensation in the skin, followed by a rash of very painful fluid-filled blisters that can then burst and turn into sores before healing. Often an area on just one side of the body is affected, usually the chest but sometimes the head, face and eye.

Read more about the symptoms of shingles.

Who can have the shingles vaccination?

Shingles vaccination is offered routinely as part of the NHS vaccination programme for people aged 70 or 79. The first people to have the vaccine will be those aged 70 or 79 on September 1 2013.

If you were aged 70 or 79 on September 1 2013 but become 71 or 80 before attending for vaccination, you will still be able to have the shingles vaccine.

If you are aged 71 to 78 on September 1 2013, your next opportunity to have the shingles vaccine will be after you have reached the age of 79.

The brand name of the shingles vaccine given in the UK is Zostavax.

Read more about who can have the shingles vaccine.

Can I have the shingles vaccination privately?

The shingles jab is available privately for anyone over the age of 50. It’s expensive and in very short supply, though. Expect to pay between £100 and £200. Your GP can advise on whether it’s safe for you to have, but you may need to visit a private clinic to arrange this.

How is the shingles vaccine given?

As an injection into the upper arm.

How does the shingles vaccine work?

The vaccine contains a weakened chickenpox virus (varicella-zoster virus). It’s similar, but not identical to, the chickenpox vaccine.

Very occasionally, people have developed a chickenpox-like illness following shingles vaccination (fewer than 1 in 10,000 individuals).

How long will the shingles vaccine protect me for?

It’s difficult to be precise, but research to date suggests the shingles vaccine will protect you for at least three years, probably longer.

How safe is the shingles vaccine?

There is lots of evidence showing that the new shingles vaccine is very safe. It’s already been used in several countries, including the US and Canada, and no safety concerns have been raised. The vaccine also has few side effects.

Read more about shingles vaccine side effects.

How is shingles spread?

You don’t “catch” shingles – it comes on when there’s a reawakening of chickenpox virus that’s already in your body. The virus can be reactivated because of advancing age, medication, illness or stress and so on.

Anyone who has had chickenpox can get shingles. It’s estimated that around one in five people who have had chickenpox go on to develop shingles.

Read more about the causes of shingles.

People tend to get shingles more often as they get older, especially over the age of  70. And the older you are, the worse it can be. The shingles rash can be extremely painful, such that sufferers can’t even bear the feeling of their clothes touching the affected skin.

The pain of shingles can also linger long after the rash has disappeared, even for many years. This lingering pain is called postherpetic neuralgia (PHN).

Read more about the complications of shingles.

Read the answers to some of the common questions about the shingles vaccine.

Flu jabs

Flu safe. Get the jab.One in three people in Warwickshire are entitled to a free flu vaccination this winter – are you one?

In Warwickshire one in three people are entitled to a free flu vaccination, yet every year thousands of people run the lottery of catching the potentially deadly illness rather than have the ‘flu jab’.

GPs offer their patients the flu vaccination from Tuesday, October 1.

The best time to be vaccinated is at the start of the flu season from October to early November, so it’s good to get in early and get flu safe in time for the winter.


I am aged over 65

Over 65? Get the jab - Get flu safe

The flu jab is free for people aged 65 years or over including those becoming age 65 years by 31 March 2014)

The flu jab is an annual one-off vaccine. 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. Please don’t underestimate flu – make an appointment with your local GP surgery or pharmacy and get your jab now to protect yourself all winter long. The flu jab is completely safe and doesn’t carry the live flu virus so it can’t give you flu

Contact your GP if you think you should have a free jab or find a local pharmacy that can offer you a free jab.

I am an adult with asthma, diabetes or another health condition

Asthma, diabetes or other health condition? Get the jab - get flu safe

If you have a health condition, catching flu is the last thing you need. It can lead to hospitalisation and serious complications such as pneumonia.
Flu jabs are free for people with certain health conditions:

  • Diabetes
  • Chronic (long-term) respiratory disease, including severe asthma (using a brown inhaler), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or bronchitis.
  • Chronic heart disease, such as heart failure.
  • Chronic kidney disease at stage 3, 4 or 5
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Chronic neurological disease, including Stroke or TIA, Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease or Motor Neurone Disease
  • A weakened immune system due to disease (such as HIV/AIDS) or treatment (such as cancer treatment)

Flu can knock you off your feet for a couple of weeks, making it difficult to look after your children or go to work.

The flu jab is an annual one-off vaccine. 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. Please don’t underestimate flu – make an appointment with your local GP surgery or pharmacy and get your jab now to protect yourself all winter long. The flu jab is completely safe and doesn’t carry the live flu virus so it can’t give you flu

Contact your GP if you think you should have a free jab or find a local pharmacy that can offer you a free jab.

I have a baby or child with asthma, diabetes or another health condition

Get the jab - get flu safe

If your child has a health condition, catching flu is the last thing they need. Poorly children can miss out on school days and exciting times over Christmas.
Flu can lead to hospitalisation and serious complications such as pneumonia.

Flu jabs are free for children aged 6 months to 16 years with certain health conditions

  • Diabetes
  • Chronic (long-term) respiratory disease, including severe asthma (using a brown inhaler), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or bronchitis.
  • Chronic neurological disease, including Stroke or TIA, Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease or Motor Neurone Disease
  • Chronic heart disease, such as heart failure.
  • Chronic kidney disease at stage 3, 4 or 5
  • Chronic liver disease
  • A weakened immune system due to disease (such as HIV/AIDS) or treatment (such as cancer treatment)

The flu jab is an annual one-off vaccine. The flu vaccine changes every year to fight the latest strains of flu, so even if your child a jab last winter they will need another one this year to stay flu safe. Please don’t underestimate flu – make an appointment with your local GP surgery or pharmacy and get your jab now to protect your children all winter long. The flu jab is completely safe and doesn’t carry the live flu virus so it can’t give you flu.

Contact your GP if you think your child is eligible for a free jab or find a local pharmacy that can offer them a free jab.

I am a pregnant woman

Pregnant? Get the jab - get flu safe

Women at any stage of pregnancy are advised to get the flu jab, as they are more likely to develop complications from the flu.
The flu jab is free for all pregnant women, including those women who become pregnant during the flu season (October to March).

Flu can knock you off your feet for a couple of weeks, making it difficult to look after your children or go to work.

Speak to your midwife or GP about the flu jab or contact your GP surgery to find out flu jab clinic times, or make an appointment or find out if your local pharmacy is offering free jabs. The flu jab is completely safe and doesn’t carry the live flu virus so it can’t give you flu.

Further information about flu vaccination here:

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/Pages/flu-jab-vaccine-pregnant.aspx

You can also have a free Whooping Cough (Pertussis) vaccination.

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/Pages/whooping-cough-vaccination-pregnant.aspx

I have a child aged 2 or 3

From September 1 2013, a new annual nasal spray flu vaccine will be offered to all children aged two and three years as part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme.Flu can be very unpleasant for children. They have the same symptoms as adults – including fever, chills, aching muscles, headache, stuffy nose, dry cough and sore throat lasting up to a week.

Children are good at spreading flu, because they tend to sneeze everywhere and don’t use tissues properly or wash their hands. The new nasal spray flu vaccine will not only help to protect your child from getting flu, it will also stop the disease spreading from them to their family, carers and the wider population.

The vaccine is given as a nasal spray squirted up each nostril. It’s quick and painless and will mean your child is less likely to become ill if they come into contact with the flu virus.

The nasal spray flu vaccine will initially be offered routinely on the NHS to all children aged two and three on September 1st 2013 i.e. children born on or between 2nd September 2009 and 1st September 2011. Over time, as the programme rolls out, all children between the ages of two and 16 will be vaccinated against flu each year with the nasal spray.

Children with long-term health conditions Children with long-term health conditions are already offered an annual flu injection and may be offered a nasal vaccine if available in the practice.

Those children with long-term health conditions aged between six months and two years will continue to be offered the annual injectable flu vaccine as the nasal vaccine is not suitable for children under 2 years of age. The injectable flu vaccine is not suitable for babies under the age of 6 months.

Are there children who shouldn’t have the flu vaccine?
There are a few children who should avoid the nasal spray flu vaccine. It’s not suitable for children who have:

  • a weakened immune system
  • egg allergy
  • severe asthma
  • active wheezing at the time of vaccination

Children unable to have the nasal spray vaccine may be able to have the flu injection instead.

How to get the flu vaccine for your child
You’ll be automatically contacted by your GP or your child’s school in September/October about getting your child vaccinated before the winter. If you don’t hear anything, or you want more information about when and how your child will be vaccinated against flu, talk to your GP, practice nurse or your child’s school nurse.

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/pages/child-flu-vaccine.aspx

I am a registered carer of a family member or friend

Flu jabs are free for people who are registered as carers with their GP.The welfare of an older or disabled person may be at risk if the carer falls ill. Getting a flu jab protects the carer from getting flu, but also prevents them from passing the virus onto the vulnerable person in their care

The flu jab is an annual one-off vaccine. 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. Please don’t underestimate flu – make an appointment with your local GP surgery or pharmacy and get your jab now to protect yourself all winter long. The flu jab is completely safe and doesn’t carry the live flu virus so it can’t give you flu.

Contact your GP if you think you or the person you care for is eligible for a free jab or find a local pharmacy that can offer you a free jab.

I am a resident in a nursing or care home

Many people living in long stay residential care homes or other long-stay care facilities will often get a free flu jab because they are over 65 or have a health condition, however there may be some people who do not fit into these groups but are still eligible for a free jab.This does not include, for instance, prisons, young offender institutions, or university halls of residence

The flu jab is an annual one-off vaccine. 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. Please don’t underestimate flu – make an appointment with your local GP surgery or pharmacy and get your jab now to protect yourself all winter long. The flu jab is completely safe and doesn’t carry the live flu virus so it can’t give you flu.

Contact your GP if you think you or the person you care for is eligible for a free jab or find a local pharmacy that can offer you a free jab.

I am a health or social care worker

Outbreaks of Influenza can arise in health and social care settings with both staff and their patients/clients being affected when influenza is circulating in the community. As well as protecting themselves, vaccination reduces the risk of staff passing the virus to vulnerable patients, staff and to family members. Vaccination of healthcare workers with direct patient contact against influenza has been shown to significantly lower rates of influenza-like illness, hospitalisation and mortality in the elderly in healthcare settings. Vaccination of staff in social care settings may provide similar benefits.Vaccination of these essential health and social care workers also helps reduce the level of sickness absenteeism that can jeopardise the NHS and care services. This is essential in the winter when pressures on the NHS increase.

Link to definition of personal care

Warwickshire County Council is offering a free flu vaccination to directly employed staff who provide personal care, if that member of staff is not eligible to receive a free flu vaccination

NHS Employers will again be running an annual campaign to promote flu vaccination for NHS workers: