People who have Addison's disease, adrenal insufficiency or who are steroid-dependent for another reason should get a free NHS flu jab to reduce the risk of getting the flu. You can’t get the flu from the flu jab, but it takes two weeks to work so you could still get the flu during that time. That’s why it’s important to get the jab as soon as you can. 

The seasonal flu jab can protect you against the most likely kind of influenza each year. As this changes each year, it means you need a new jab each year too. So arm yourself with the facts so you can make informed choices. Below we hear from Dr Anna Mitchell, Consultant Endocrinologist, who explains more about the importance of getting your flu jab when you are steroid-dependent and the impact of COVID-19.

For people who are steroid-dependent, catching flu can have serious consequences. If you catch the flu, at the very least you are likely to feel dreadful for a few days and you will need to follow the steroid sick day rules and double or triple your steroid doses. However, more worryingly, flu is a common cause of adrenal crisis, with a 2013 ADSHG member survey demonstrating that around a quarter of adrenal crises requiring hospital admission stemmed from flu and flu-like illnesses.

Prevention is better than cure, therefore for this reason, people who are steroid-dependent are offered an annual flu vaccination free of charge on the NHS.

This winter, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic showing no signs of abating, people who are eligible (including some patients who are steroid-dependent), will be offered an annual flu vaccination and a COVID-19 vaccine booster. Both are effective at reducing case numbers and the severity illness and need for hospitalisation (however, no vaccine is 100% effective, so we should all continue with good hand hygiene, wearing face coverings in crowded indoor spaces and keeping our distance).

Due to the risk of adrenal crisis requiring medical care, people who are steroid-dependent are at increased risk if they become unwell with either COVID-19 or the flu. If you can protect yourself from these illnesses and approach winter with confidence, then that is a positive thing. So, don’t delay - make your appointment soon!”

Author: Dr Anna Mitchell, Consultant Endocrinologist, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Twitter: @Anna_L_Mitchell


Flu Jab, COVID-19 vaccines and boosters

We know that coronavirus vaccine trials have included people who’ve also had a flu jab. Public Health England (PHE) have also said that there aren’t any safety concerns around having both vaccines. Experts think that it’s unlikely there would be any interaction between the two vaccines that would impact on how well they work. But PHE do recommend leaving a 7-day gap between getting a flu and a coronavirus vaccine. This would allow for any side effects you may notice, like a headache or a sore arm, to be traced back to the right vaccine.

“My GP won’t give me the free NHS Flu jab" - Next Steps  

Due to Addison's and adrenal insufficiency being a rare disease, healthcare professionals don't always have the information they need to make certain decisions regarding the management of this rare condition. With this in mind, our charity exists to give you the information and support, should you need it, to send to your GP or healthcare professional, so you can work together.  

If after passing on the information on this webpage and noting to your healthcare professional it is the recommendation of the Addison's Clinical Advisory Panel (CAP) to receive the free NHS flu jab, you are still advised you will not receive the jab, please visit our Flu Jab and Other Vaccines page for a guide on the next steps you can follow. 

Flu Jab and Other Vaccines 

We’re here for you with information and support around COVID-19, read our latest COVID-19 guidance.

Where and when to book you flu jab: You should book your annual flu vaccination for early autumn if possible (September onwards). Contact your GP to book your jab if they haven't already got in touch.

With many GP’s facing supply issues, it may be quicker and easier to get one from your local pharmacy. AsdaLloyds PharmacyTesco or Boots are also all offering online booking services for the flu vaccine.

For more information, our ADSHG Clinical Advisory Panel have put together guidance about the flu vaccination in our 'Managing Your Addison's' leaflet. You can download the 'Managing Your Addison's' leaflet for free here.

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