This winter will be the first where we will see influenza (flu) and COVID-19 circulating in our community, with fewer non-pharmaceutical interventions in place, so it is important that we protect ourselves.
Flu vaccination is important because:
- more people are likely to get flu this winter as fewer people will have built up natural immunity to it during the COVID-19 pandemic
- if you get flu and COVID-19 at the same time, research shows you're more likely to be seriously ill
- getting vaccinated against flu and COVID-19 will provide protection for you and those around you for both these serious illnesses
Flu, COVID-19 and other seasonal respiratory viruses also have the potential to significantly impact our health services in the Bailiwick: in particular, putting pressure on our hospitals.
Working in partnership with Primary Care Services, the States of Guernsey is encouraging anyone aged 18 to 64 who is 'at risk' of being seriously unwell if they contract flu to make arrangements to receive their flu vaccine as soon as possible. Anyone who falls into the 'at risk' group can receive this vaccine this year, at no cost from their primary care practice.
Flu can affect anyone, but if you have a long-term health condition, the effects of flu can make it worse even if the condition is well managed and you normally feel well. For some, the disease can lead to hospitalisation, permanent disability or even death.
You should have the free flu vaccine if you are:
- pregnant (if you are pregnant you can ask your midwife for an influenza vaccine)
or have a long-term condition such as:
- a heart problem
- a chest complaint or serious breathing difficulties, including bronchitis, emphysema or some people with asthma
- a kidney disease
- lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (such as steroid medication or cancer treatment)
- liver disease
- had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
- a neurological condition, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or cerebral palsy
- learning disability
- a problem with your spleen, such as sickle cell disease, or you have had your spleen removed
- you are seriously overweight (BMI of 40 and above)
This list of conditions isn't definitive. It's always an issue of clinical judgement. Your GP can assess you to take into account the risk of flu making any underlying illness you may have worse, as well as your risk of serious illness from flu itself. If you are unsure then please contact your primary care practice for more information and advice.