Getting a flu jab
Cold weather and flu can make some health problems worse and even lead to serious complications, especially if you are 65 or older, or if you have a long-term health condition.
The best way to avoid getting flu is to have a flu vaccine, which is free for people with a learning disability. Carers can also get a flu vaccine for free if the person they support would be left without support if they got sick.
The flu vaccine is usually given as the flu jab, which is an injection, but for some people with very bad fear of needles, they may be able to have it as a nasal (nose) spray.
The NHS have made some helpful easy read resources about how to stay well this winter and protect yourself from flu.
Flu jabs for people with a learning disability
This NHS video shows the importance of the flu vaccination for people with a learning disability and autistic people with certain health conditions.
The film explains why it is important to have it every year, who is eligible for a free vaccine and where you can get the vaccine.
It also explains why providers of the vaccine need to make reasonable adjustments.
More information about flu
Take a look at the following information about getting a flu vaccination this winter.
Flu and coronavirus Flu and coronavirus (COVID-19) are different illnesses.
The flu vaccine will not protect you from coronavirus, and the coronavirus vaccine will not protect you from the flu. People who catch flu and coronavirus at the same time are more likely to become seriously ill, so it is more important than ever to get your flu vaccine.
Who can get a flu jab?
According to Public Health England, having a flu vaccine is the best way to stop people getting the flu.
People with a learning disability are more likely than other people to become seriously ill if they get the flu.
You can have the flu vaccination at your GP surgery or at a pharmacy.
It is free if you are:
- a person with a learning disability
- an autistic person with another qualifying long term heath condition
- the main carer of a disabled person who may be at risk if you got sick
- a child aged 2 to 11
- frontline health or social care staff (e.g. a support worker)
It is important that people with a learning disability and those who support them have the flu vaccine to reduce the chance of the flu virus being passed on to them.
Flu vaccines for adults are usually given by injection. Children are usually offered a nasal spray.
Healthcare professionals can make a number of reasonable adjustments to make it easier for disabled people to have the vaccination.
These could include:
- making sure the person does not have to wait a long time
- giving more time for the appointment
- showing them the equipment first
- talking to them about the things they enjoy
- numbing the area or using distraction
- offering nasal spray to adults if they are unable to have the injection (although we understand this will only be offered as a last resort, and is only available at GP surgeries).
Getting support to have the flu jab
No one should miss out on a flu vaccine because they do not have capacity to make the decision for themselves.
With the right support many people with a learning disability will be able to make an informed decision about whether or not to have the flu jab.
If you are worried that the person you support may not be able to make this decision for themselves, we would advise you to speak to their GP as soon as possible.
The GP will assess the person with a learning disability's capacity and if they find they lack capacity, will make the decision in their best interests.
If you think you will need extra support contact your community learning disability team as soon as possible. You can also contact the Mencap Learning Disability Helpline for advice or support.
Flu jabs for carers of people with a learning disability
This short NHS video for carers of people with a learning disability about the importance of vaccinating themselves and the people they care for.
The video explains why it is important to have it every year, who is eligible for a free vaccine, where you can get the vaccine and the reasonable adjustments carers might need for the person they care for.