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People with epilepsy urged to consider flu jab
People in at-risk groups are slow on the uptake when it comes to getting the flu jab, new figures have revealed.
Department of Health data shows that only 32% of people under the age of 65 in at-risk groups, which includes epilepsy and other neurological conditions, have taken advantage of the vaccine, which protects against several strains of flu, including swine flu.
Chief medical officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies wants to increase the number of vaccinated people under 65 in at-risk groups to 60%. She said: “I can categorically state that the flu jab does not give you flu. The vaccine does not have a live virus. It can save your life though. Flu can kill – and it can be particularly dangerous for people in an at-risk group.
She continued: “If you haven’t been called for a flu jab and you are in an at-risk group, it’s time to cont act your GP to make an appointment. If you’re in an at-risk group, it’s free on the NHS.”
If you have flu like symptoms and are concerned that you may have swine flu you should either contact the National Flu Pandemic Service (currently England only), or your GP.
People with chronic neurological conditions, such as epilepsy, are considered to be more at risk and may need to start taking antivirals as soon as they are confirmed with the illness. On occasion, doctors may advise some high risk patients to take antivirals before they have symptoms if someone close to them has swine flu. Seizures may be more likely to occur if someone with epilepsy is unwell with an infection such as swine flu.
Before taking any medication under any circumstances, you are advised to speak to your pharmacist or GP.
Epilepsy Society would like to reassure people taking anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) that there is no known interaction between those drugs and the anti viral medications, Tamiflu and Relenza, currently being prescribed during the swine flu outbreak.
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