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flu jab

well I have just been to the Dr for my ecg all is well and it is clear, but while ii was there I asked about getting a flu jab and the nurse has informed me that I’m not entitled to one even if I’m on meds as I’m not on the at risk list, how does this work then? I thought we had a disease that affected our whole body including lungs, if you get your jab and have no underlying illness I would love to hear your thoughts and comments on this. Becky

13 Replies

Hi Becky,

There is a leaflet you can look at on all about flu jabs. It says you can get one if you have a heart problem, chest condition, "Lowered immunity due to disease or treatment such as steroid or cancer treatment", lung disease, neurological disoreders, spleen problem or removal of spleen.

My doctor gives me the jab, i have ra but also diabetes and asthma the last two being the reason I get one. I would approach the practice manager and explain you have RA and the drugs you take could lower your immunity and if you have had steroid therapy bring that up too. My doctors are very accommodating but sometimes they just dont get enough stock to vaccinate people who are not on their "list," and tell them you feel you would like a flu vaccination.

If you get no joy then many chemist offer flu jabs at about £10-£15.

But whatever way I would never miss the flu jab as I had real flu once, got pneumonia and ended up in high dependancy at the hospital. Flu is awful isnt it, and I would rather have some immunity to it. Good luck with the practice manager.

love Axx


Hi, I can't believe the nurse could say that to you. I had the pneumo vaccine on Wednesday after asking for it due to treatment with mtx and I'm booked into have the flu jab next week. I've just looked on the nhs website and it says clearly that the flu jab is required by people with lowered immunity because of illness or medication. Check out the following link and maybe highlight a copy for your practice nurse.

Best of luck



wot can believe it, well , you tell them , oh yes , iam . as immunity is low, . wot up with her, go see , your g.p. and tell him you have to have it, good luck.:) jo


Hi there,it's not the RA that is the trigger for the winter jabs, but whether or not you are on immunosuppressant drugs. RA in itself isn't a problem as if anything you have a more active immune system! And yes RA can affect the lungs for a few very unlucky people but I don't think you have that complication do you? So it's only if you are on a drug such as Methotrexate that you qualify for the free jabs. Well that's what I was told by my GP's surgery last year, and I haven't booked in yet for this year. Pollyx


Hi Becky

This is the latest link about entitlement to the flu jab and it is interesting to note that if you live with someone who has a weakened immune system, you may also be advised to have a flu vaccine. Speak to your GP about this. My husband has a free jab every year.

Carole x


Hi Becky. Am I right in thinking that you have only been diagnosed by a GP to date and haven't yet seen a rheumy consultant? Sorry if I've got this wrong but I just read your profile but perhaps you haven't updated it. If this is the case and you are still not on any immunosuppressant drugs yet then I think Polly is right in saying you will not be thought in the at risk category at all yet.

My husband gets them as priority every year because he's a care worker in an old folk's home but last year I wasn't officially diagnosed until late November and then my GP said I should have one before I started MTX but no mention of the pneumonia one. I had missed most of the batches but they managed to find one at the back of the surgery fridge!

I was told by the nurse last week that being on MTX makes me a priority for both the flu and pneumonia jabs - especially because I'm going away traveling soon so should have it before I go off to big cities etc. Personally I would rather not have these things as I think they are a bit of an assault on the body's natural immune system - but then so are DMARDs of course and I've signed up to them so that's just life.

As others have said you could always pay for one but if you do have RA your immune system is probably still over rather than underactive. Tilda



Like T, I was offered the flu jab,when I was started on mtx last year. I think you should have it Becky and I am sure there use to be a letter that you could download from nras to give to your health worker as were all being advised to have the flu jab last year?

Perhaps somebody could confirm or not this also????

Joanne x


yes there is a letter on the NRAS website that you can download and print out, just search on flu. But my GP said that they wouldn't give it to me for just having RA as I'm otherwise quite healthy but only because I was on immune suppressant drugs. Maybe other GPs are more open to providing it.


Hello Becky .....mine just came through the post from surgery. ( appt not jab....ha ha !) x


Hi Becky, I had my flu jab last Thursday, unexpectedly as I was seeing a GP and nurse for something else.

I dont know which meds you are on so cannot specify whether you should or should not come in to the qualifying category but my history is I have longstanding RA, have been on mtx for something like 15 years, plus DMARDS, and have only been having the flu jabs for the past couple of years.

Until 4 years ago I worked full time and honestly did not suffer any more bouts of flu than anyone else, in fact I may have suffered less. I have been asked whether I have had a flu jab before starting biologicals (or anti-tnf) treatment so it must be a pre-requisite before having these.

Apparently the pneumonia jab is usually only given every 5 years unless the patient has reason for it to be given sooner (this information was given to me by the nurse as I asked why it wasn't necessary for me to have one this year).

I would definitely have a word with your rheumy nurse to see what they suggest.

Judi xxxxxxx


As a previous practice nurse i can tell u she is wrong u are entitled to a flu jab the gp gets points and money for reaching targets by giving u it go back chrisxx


I think this is another example of postcode lotteries in what services you get.

If you have been told you aren't eligible, ask the practice manager at your surgery for a list to show you who is eligible. If you think you do meet the criteria for your NHS area, then make sure you let them know, and if they still say no, then put in a written complaint.


Hi all

Unfortunately this is something I've had many queries about over the years, and it really is a grey area, which is why you are all being told different things. It seems that it's very much down to interpretation. On the face of it, it looks as though people with RA would largely be included, because they do tend to be on drugs that lower their immune system, so some health care professionals (HCPs) interpret it as meeting the criteria. However, they are given some guidance on what would be considered a high enough level of immunosuppresion, and the level to which immune systems are affected by RA drugs is much lower than the examples they are given (e.g. of patients receiving medication for cancer or on very high doses of long-term steroids etc). I have had many conversations about this with Department of Health.

However, even if you cannot get a flu jab on the NHS you can sometimes get them done through your local pharmacy at a cost, so if you are concerned and want to have a flu jab it may be worth speaking to your pharmacist about this.

Kind regards


(NRAS Helpline)


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