The annual influenza (flu) immunisation programme in Wales is now underway in time for the coming winter – and we are urging those with liver disease and in ‘at risk’ groups to get their flu vaccination as soon as possible.
Last year, fewer than half (46.9%) of people in clinical risk groups were protected against influenza, a virus, which can and does kill every year. People particularly ‘at risk’ of influenza, such as liver disease, and its complications are given the vaccine at no cost as part of NHS care. However last winter more than half (57.7%) of people under the age of 65 with a liver condition missed out on getting a free influenza (flu) vaccination in Wales.
People with liver disease are urged to protect themselves as early as possible and get their vaccine before influenza starts circulating in Wales.
Vanessa Hebditch, Director, British Liver Trust, explains why the influenza vaccination is vital for people with liver disease: “Influenza is a serious illness caused by a virus that affects the lungs and airways. Symptoms generally come on suddenly, and can include fever, chills, headache, cough, muscle aches and fatigue. For people with liver disease, influenza can be deadly.
“The best way to protect against catching flu is by having the flu vaccine each year. Make sure you don’t put yourself at risk by missing this potentially life-saving opportunity. Influenza cannot be treated with antibiotics, so make sure you get your flu vaccine for your own best protection
“The vaccination also helps preventing the spread of the virus, so getting vaccinated helps keep you and also those around safe. It’s a win-win.”
Every year influenza circulates, but each year thousands of people who are at risk of serious complications because of liver disease fail to protect themselves.
Health officials warn that even if you had the vaccine last year, it is important to get it again this year, immunity wanes, and the influenza virus changes every year so you should have it again now for best protection this winter.