These pages are about medication available in the UK. If you are looking for information about medication in another country, please contact your local epilepsy organisation.
In this section
- About flu?
- Vaccine for flu
- People with medical conditions
- Epilepsy and getting the flu jab
- Further information
Flu is a virus that mainly affects your nose, throat and lungs. For most people, it’s not serious, and they get better within a week. But some people, who get flu, go on to have more serious conditions, such as bronchitis and pneumonia. In rare cases, people die from these complications of flu.
Every year the Department of Health makes a vaccine available to offer to people at risk of serious complications of flu. The 2012/13 vaccine protects against three types of flu virus.
- H1N1 – the strain of flu that caused the swine flu pandemic in 2009
- H3N2 – a strain of flu that can infect birds and mammals and was active in 2011
- a strain of flu that was active in 2010 known as B/Wisconsin/1
The flu vaccine is offered free of charge to anyone who is over six months old, and has one of the following.
- A long-term condition that affects breathing, such as asthma, COPD or bronchitis
- A long-term conditions that affects the heart
- A long-term kidney disease
- A long-term liver disease, such as hepatitis
- A long-term condition that affects the brain, such as Parkinson’s disease or motor neurone disease
- Problems with the spleen – for example, sickle cell disease, or if they have had their spleen removed
- A weak immune system due to HIV and AIDS, or treatments that lower the immune system, such a cancer treatments
Pregnant women and people aged more than 65 years are also offered the flu jab. This is because they are considered to be at high risk of serious illness if they get flu.
Epilepsy is a long-term condition. However, the Department of Health has no reason to believe that people with epilepsy are in a high risk group. This means that people with epilepsy are not automatically offered the flu jab. But, if your family doctor thinks you are at risk of becoming seriously ill if you get flu, they can offer you a flu jab.
Further information about flu, including symptoms, what to do if you get flu and vaccination against flu is available in theUK, from your national NHS helpline
Epilepsy Action would like to thank Professor Phil Smith, MD FRCP, Consultant Neurologist, University Hospital of Wales, for his contribution.
Professor Phil Smith has no conflict of interest to declare.
This information has been produced under the terms of The Information Standard.
Updated December 2012To be reviewed December 2014