Dr Charles Shepherd, Hon. Medical Adviser, ME Association
Each year we fully update the ME Association information and guidance on flu vaccination in relation to ME/CFS.
We hope to publish the free 2020-2021 leaflet by early October – once flu vaccination programmes begin, and we have all the relevant information about the new vaccine.
In the meantime you might find the following information helpful should you be thinking about having the flu vaccine this year.
The current ME Association information for the 2019–2020 flu vaccine is available as a free download.
Most of the content will apply to the 2020–2021 vaccine – apart from the changes to eligibility criteria for a free NHS jab and related Covid-19 precautions:
Can someone with ME/CFS have a free flu jab if they want one?
If your GP is querying whether you are eligible to have a free flu vaccination on the NHS you need to point out that the answer is YES because:
- People with a chronic neurological disease are eligible for an NHS flu jab
(NHS Green Book – Chapter 19, page 14).
- NHS England definitely classifies M.E. as a neurological condition: Intermittent and Unpredictable conditions.
Chief Medical Officer
“As you know, the risk of serious illness from flu and consequent hospitalisation and death is higher among those with underlying health conditions such as M.E.
“We know that people with chronic neurological conditions are approximately 40 times more likely to die if they develop flu than individuals who have no other underlying health conditions.
“The best way for people at risk from flu to protect themselves and their families is to get the flu vaccine. People with clinical risk factors are eligible to receive the seasonal flu vaccine free each winter.”Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, (2014)
COVID-19 and flu vaccination
A very important additional issue this year is the impact of COVID-19 and the Dept of Health’s decision to encourage far more people to have this flu vaccine protection.
A dose of flu plus COVID is going to be a very nasty combination of infections to have. People with M.E. are going to have to take this additional factor into consideration when deciding whether they are going to have a flu vaccine this year.
On a personal basis, I normally choose not to have a flu vaccine. But I may well change my mind this year in view of COVID-19 – as this infection isn’t going to go away and there won’t be a COVID-19 vaccine available for widespread public use until any 2020-2021 flu epidemic is over.
The ME Association
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