Many of us will remember the aftermath of having ‘proper flu’. I remember not being able to walk properly for almost a week. At the time I thought I was fit; I was boxing semi-professionally and played first team football for University.
We frequently see the toll that flu takes on patients every winter. As geriatricians we see the loss of muscle function resulting in loss of independence in our frail (and often not so frail) patients.
We have been warned that this winter may see a flu epidemic of greater severity than for many years. In our hospitals we will be treating those who are seriously ill, and that could place dangerous pressure on our already finite services.
So there are three reasons why I have had a flu jab, and why I think you should too:
1. If I get flu, I could inadvertently pass it on to other members of staff, to patients and my family. The consequences could be more serious for them than they will be for me.
2. If there is an epidemic, my team will need me at work, not confined to a bed with flu.
3. I don’t fancy being confined to bed for a week…it’s not fun.
The vaccine is designed to reduce your chances of getting flu, and if you are unlucky enough to contract it having been vaccinated, then it is likely to be a milder and shorter illness. There is no downside, unless you have a specific contra-indication.
I think it’s a professional duty for those who work in the NHS to be vaccinated.