Three tips for staying flu-free this winter – spread the word, not the flu!

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People with cystic fibrosis and their families know how serious flu season can be, and most people with CF should get their flu vaccine at their CF centre visits or at their GP. But it’s not just people with CF who need to make sure they get the vaccine. If you know someone who has CF and are eligible for the vaccine, we’d encourage you to act early to get protected and stop the spread of the nasty virus to those who are vulnerable.

Here are three things you should know (and share) about the flu vaccine.

1. You could get it for free

If you have a health condition, are aged 65 or older, pregnant, work in healthcare or are an unpaid carer, you may be able to get the flu vaccine for free. Children aged 2-11 are also offered the vaccine from October, and ensuring they are protected against flu can also stop the spread of the disease.

Health conditions include:

  • Liver problems like cirrhosis or hepatitis
  • Chronic heart disease
  • Respiratory disease
  • Diabetes
  • Multiple sclerosis

Not sure if your health condition covers you for a free vaccine? Contact your GP today. You may even be able to get your flu vaccine at your pharmacy, who will inform your GP for you.

2. Get it early

You might imagine that the best time to get your flu vaccine is in the middle of winter. After all, it’s a time of year we associate with sneezing and sniffles. In actual fact, the best time to get your vaccine is in the autumn, before winter sets in, as flu spreads more easily when temperatures are low. The vaccine is available from the start of October, but if you do miss it, it’s available well into the winter period.

3. The risks are serious

You might be thinking: “Why bother getting a flu vaccine if the person I know with CF has had their shot?”If you catch the flu, there is still a chance you could pass it on to someone who has been vaccinated. Even though their risk of catching the flu has been substantially decreased, it’s still possible. And this risk is all the more dangerous if that person is someone with a health condition like cystic fibrosis, or if they have had a transplant, which can cause a weaker immune system, making them more susceptible to catching the flu.

People with health conditions are 18 times more likely to die from flu than those without. In fact, people with a compromised immune system are over 50 times more likely than a healthy person to die of flu. And people with liver problems are 80 times more likely to die (NHS inform).

These are scary statistics, but they don’t have to be. Protect yourself by getting the vaccine, and encourage those around you who are eligible to do the same. The more people immunised, the better it is for everyone.  

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