People with a Learning Disability urged to have the flu vaccine

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(Last Updated On: November 24, 2021)

Children and adults with learning disabilities, as well as their family members or paid supporters, are eligible to receive a free flu vaccine this winter.

Preventing flu is particularly important for people with learning disabilities. It can lead to pneumonia and sepsis, which many people with a learning disability are much more vulnerable to than the general population.

People with learning disabilities are less likely to get the flu if people around them have also been vaccinated. Family carers can get the flu vaccination for free if they’re the main carer, as can support workers.

Dr Rachel Gaywood, NHS Devon’s Strategic Clinical Lead for Learning Disability and Autism said: “We have been working hard to protect people from coronavirus, but we mustn’t forget that flu can also be very serious. The flu vaccine is safe and effective and we would urge people to have it.

“There are lots of things that we can do to make you feel more comfortable having the flu vaccination.”

Healthcare professionals can make reasonable adjustments to make it easier for disabled people to have the vaccination.

These could include:
– Ensuring the person does not have a long wait
– Longer appointments
– Showing them the equipment before the vaccination
– Numbing the injection site
– Offering nasal spray to adults if they are unable to have the injection (in GP surgeries)

With appropriate support many people with a learning disability will be able to make an informed decision about the flu jab. If carers are worried a GP can assess the person with a learning disability’s capacity and if necessary, make the decision in their best interests.

Useful links:
You can watch this video about flu and to see what happens when you go for a flu vaccine.
This easy Read leaflet explains the vaccination
You can find a pharmacy near you offering the NHS flu vaccine online

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