From sceptic to convert: why I always get my flu jab
It’s crucial that everyone working in a healthcare environment has an annual flu jab to protect themselves and their patients from a virus which can be deadly. The vaccine is the best form of protection that we have against flu but some people are reluctant to have the jab. Julian Jeyasingh-Jacob leads a team of occupational therapists and physiotherapists at the Trust and was once a flu-jab sceptic. He tells us what changed his mind and why he now makes time to have the jab every year.
Fit and healthy
For many years, I didn’t have the flu vaccine. I didn’t think people like me who are generally fit and healthy needed it. I’d had a few flu-like illnesses and my body handled them well enough so I was fairly sure I could deal with flu if it ever came my way. I thought having the jab was not something I needed to do.
Then about ten years ago I got flu for the first time. I soon realised my previous ‘flu-like’ illnesses didn’t come anywhere near to the experience of having the proper flu. I felt awful and I just couldn’t get out of bed. A high fever coupled with severe aches and pains in my body, a headache and a cough, meant I took more than a week off work sick. Being off work obviously had an impact on my therapy colleagues, who had more work to deal with in my absence. Having flu affected my family life too as I couldn’t be an active dad to my young children and I was worried about giving them the virus. Even when I was well enough to go back to work, some of my symptoms continued; I felt tired and lacking in energy for at least a month so in the end the effects of flu lasted much longer than I expected.
In my current role, I look after a team of occupational therapists and physiotherapists who provide care to patients with a wide range of conditions including cancer. If colleagues are unwell with a flu-like illness, we ask them to go home – we can’t risk them passing on the flu infection to patients, particularly those with weakened immune systems.
Recently I learnt that over 70 per cent of people infected with flu have no symptoms. So even if you feel well yourself, you can still pass the virus on to other people who may be less able to fight it. The only way to prevent giving it to someone else is to get the flu vaccine. For me this is another really compelling reason to have the jab.
I started having the flu jab myself nine years ago and I’m happy to report that I’ve not had flu since. The jab is really quick and painless: it might leave you with a slightly achy arm for a day or so but not much more. I never want to feel as ill again as I did when I had flu, so I’m happy to have the jab and to be safe in the knowledge I’ve done all that I can to avoid passing on a horrible virus to my patients, colleagues or my own family.
Flu facts and figures
- Over 70 per cent of infected people have no symptoms
- Up to a third of flu deaths in England are in otherwise healthy people
- The vaccine cannot give you flu – it does not contain live viruses
- The vaccine is up to 70 per cent effective
If you need the flu vaccine, be sure to get it as soon as you can. The injected flu vaccine is offered free of charge on the NHS to people who are at risk. You should have the flu vaccine if you:
- are 65 years of age or over
- are pregnant
- have certain medical conditions
- are living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility
- receive a carer's allowance, or you are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill
- are a frontline health or social care worker.
Visit NHS.uk for more information about the jab and how you can get it.
Trust staff should consult the intranet to find out when you can get the jab at work.
Are you a flu jab sceptic, or do you make time for the jab every year? Share this post on social and share your views.