It is coming up to that time of year when you/your children will be approached to have the flu vaccine. The vaccine provides the best protection available against the flu virus. Flu can cause severe illness especially in those with long term health conditions as they are often more susceptible to the effects.
Who should get the flu vaccine?
All those aged six months and older with chronic liver disease should have the flu vaccine each year. Children who are immunosuppressed, either due to transplant or treatment could still have inactivated vaccines. Parents should take advice from medical professionals as children may be offered the injected inactivated flu vaccine rather than the live intranasal vaccine (nasal spray).
Those aged 6 months to 2 years with a liver disease should be given the injected vaccine due to the nasal spray not being licenced for children under the age of 2.
Household contacts of those on the NHS Shielded Patient List are being offered the flu vaccine this year.
If you/your child is on this list you may be contacted about receiving the vaccine but if in any doubt, due to changes in the shielding guidance, it is advised that you contact your GP for advice.
It is important to keep those most vulnerable to COVID-19 well this winter and we do not want them to catch flu. Shielding households are being offered the flu vaccine this year to reduce the chance of a person who has an underlying health condition catching flu from members of their household.
*Please note: There have been discussions in the media regarding flu vaccine supply issues. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has stated that the clinically most vulnerable (over 65s and those with other health conditions) will be prioritised and rolled out more broadly after that. Each eligible group will receive the vaccine at different times during the next few months. Please contact your medical professional/GP for further information.
Can transplanted children have the flu vaccine?
Transplanted children can be vaccinated. If they are immunosuppressed, either due to transplant or their treatment they could still have inactivated vaccines. Parents should take advice from medical professionals as children may be offered the injected inactivated flu vaccine rather than the live intranasal vaccine (nasal spray). Please be aware that many schools are offering the nasal spray vaccine to children therefore it is best to ensure that the school is aware if your child is unable to have the live vaccine.
These children can be in school while other students are having the nasal flu vaccine but not in the same room as them whilst they are having it due to the aerosol risk.
Families of children immediately post-transplant who have not resumed school are advised that the rest of the family should have the flu injection rather than nasal.
The flu vaccine doesn’t provide protection against COVID-19
The flu vaccine won’t protect against COVID-19. However, helping to protect against flu is particularly important with COVID-19 in circulation because people vulnerable to COVID-19 are also at risk of complications from flu and symptoms are very similar. Furthermore, it helps to prevent the NHS becoming overburdened during what may be an already difficult time for services.
Where can I get more information?
You can speak to your GP, practice nurse, pharmacist and/or specialist liver team for personalised advice if needed.
- For the full list of eligible groups, further information about vulnerable groups and those with a medical condition click here.
- Those in Scotland can also view further information for children here.
- Those in Wales can also view further information for children here.
- Those in Northern Ireland can also view further information for children here.