flu jab ibd nhs

The Flu Jab Saga (How I ended up crying snot bubbles in public)

After years of complex health issues, multiple surgeries, too many medications to name and months in hospital, I thought getting a flu jab would be a simple, fuss free event.  It started when a nurse in hospital clinic asked in passing whether I had had my flu jab this year.  I said I had never had one and she was surprised and asked me to see my GP and arrange one.

My immune system is shagged and I catch everything going.  I caught flu a few years back and spent a week in hospital.  Anyway, I pondered this and asked on my Facebook page whether other people with IBD had  flu jabs.  The answer was a resounding YES! And so I called the GP and asked the receptionist if she could check with a doctor if I should have one.  She said she would check and call back.  She did not call back.

So when I was seeing a GP recently, regarding my pouchitis, I asked her and she thought I should have one.  She said she would check with another doctor and let me know.  Last week I got a phone call from the surgery asking me to attend this week for my flu jab! Result!

sam cleasby blogger

Today I trundled along to the GP surgery for my 10.15am appointment.  As I was called through, the health care assistant looked at the screen and asked why I was having this.  I replied that I have Ulcerative Colitis and have had my colon removed, that I had a rubbish immune system and that it had been recommended by doctors.

She shook her head, stood up and left the room.  She returned and said “Well, you shouldn’t be having this but seeing as you are here, we will do it but only this one time!”  I was quite surprised and asked her why I had been called in my the surgery for this appointment, if I didn’t need the shot?  She said she didn’t know.

I asked if I shouldn’t be having this because it was bad for me, she said I wasn’t on the list of reasons to give the shot.  She appeared a little angry with me but I wanted to be clear on whether I should or shouldn’t have it and so I questioned again why I had been called in for this appointment.  She said it wasn’t the doctors here that had asked for it, I said it was, and tried to explain about seeing the GP.  She rolled her eyes and stood up, asking if I wanted to have the jab or not.

She was quite aggressive.  I said to her “Look, I’m not sure why, but I feel like you’re being a bit weird with me and I am just trying to ask what the confusion is.”

“I am not being weird!” she said loudly.  She was actually being aggressive, but I didn’t want to use the word ‘aggressive’.  She then took the cap off the needle and stood over me, saying “are you having this or not”.  I looked away and said “fine”.

She then span round and walked out, holding the needle.  I was a bit shaken and so stood up and put my coat back on, I didn’t want this woman to inject me with anything!  Then a nurse came back in and asked if I was having the jab.  I explained that the other woman had been quite aggressive and I was just trying to understand what the problem was and whether I was supposed to be having the flu jab or not.  She was friendlier and said that the other woman was a healthcare assistant and trained to just read the basic instructions on the screen.

sam cleasby blogger

I decided to have the shot and took off my coat.  She gave the needle and it was over.  I started to cry and was embarrassed so said “Look, Im sorry if I am being over sensitive”, she said that she would speak to the assistant about it all.  I was really crying as I left the room.  Big snot bubble weeping.

I stood in the reception in floods of tears.  I know I am being over sensitive, I know that usually I wouldn’t be so upset by this, but I am in a delicate place right now, I am just out of hospital and preparing for major surgery and this did bother me.  I felt really silly to be honest that I was so upset but you know that damn straw that breaks the camel’s back? Well this was mine today.

Perhaps this woman was having a bad day, maybe she didn’t know how to deal with the situation, but today really sucked and I walked out of there feeling upset, embarrassed and unsure of whether I should have even had the jab!  Surely part of being a healthcare assistant means dealing with people who may be in sensitive or emotional states.  I obviously annoyed her by questioning why I had been called in but she didn’t once speak kindly or apologise.  She was mean and aggressive and really needs to consider how her actions affect the very people she is meant to be helping.

The NHS recommends this;

The injected flu vaccine is offered free of charge on the NHS to anyone with a serious long-term health condition. That includes these types of illnesses:

This list of conditions isn’t definitive. It’s always an issue of clinical judgement.

Your GP can assess you individually to take into account the risk of flu exacerbating any underlying illness you may have, as well as your risk of serious illness from flu itself.  The vaccine should always be offered in such cases, even if you are not technically in one of the risk groups above.

Don’t be put off by my experience though, if you think you should be having the flu jab, get in touch with your GP.

Sam x

8 replies
  1. Charlie Hooson-Sykes
    Charlie Hooson-Sykes says:

    I had a similar experience when trying to get seen for a chronic hip problem. It had been misdiagnosed in the (very) end but in the meantime I was receiving steroid injections for chronic bursitis caused by it. I could barely walk, but I was made to feel as if it was all my fault because I was overweight. The woman was rude, aggressive and in the end I had to put in a complaint. I couldn’t exercise to lose weight because the pain was too severe, and I couldn’t get the pain diminished substantially enough without the injection. Catch 22.

    You should have had the jab and whether she disagreed with the words on the screen or not, not her place to judge.

  2. Rinse
    Rinse says:

    You were treated appallingly. Poor you! I dont know why so many health “professionals” are so unpleasant. It winds me up every time I got to our surgery. I think in particular women are made to feel like malingerers whilst men virtually get a trumpet serenade every time they make an appointment as they have been “so brave” to turn up, and their symptoms are always treated with greater respect. GROWL…I have to go next week (earliest appt. 8days minimum) and I’m already getting stressed as to whether I can get actually get listened to in my alloted 6 minutes or whatever it is they allow you.

  3. Nat Nat
    Nat Nat says:

    The way You were treated is shocking, I agree about some health care workers, I wonder why they chose that job when they have no compassion or interest in patients health or well being.
    Dr Riley at NGH told me that anyone with an illness which affects your immune system should have the flu jab and as it is not a live vaccine will not make you I’ll. I was also advised to have the pnemonia jab as well because I am on immuno suppressants but the Drs required a note from him to confirm I needed it.
    So sorry you had to go through such an upsetting situation. I hope the person concerned is told this is not the way to treat patients and is unacceptable.
    I’m sending my love ?? I hope your feeling a bit better. Xx
    P.s. Your arm will ache an feel bruised tomorrow xxx

  4. T
    T says:

    Hi, you poor thing, I hope the health care assistant gets put on some patient care course.
    Also, please can you explain what you mean by ” I am just out of hospital and preparing for major surgery”, I thought you had already had your last operation?
    Thank you.
    T x

  5. Cath
    Cath says:

    This post makes me so sad and upset.
    I’ve just completed a Return to Practice course. I used to be a Registered Nurse, had some time off, so have just gone back into nursing.
    To me, people who are angry and bitter and unkind shouldn’t be working in a role where they are meant to care about people. Yes, we all have our bad days, but as a professional you have to sweep this aside and treat everyone with the respect and kindness they deserve.

    There are some amazing Healthcare Assistants out there, but unfortunately this one has really messed up. I don’t get why she was going to give you a flu jab in the first place? Does she have the knowledge to answer the patients queations and allay anxieties? No. Unfortunately in a cost led service, this is an example of a job that used to be carried out by a Registered Nurse, but a HCA is cheaper for the GPs to pay.
    And at the end of the day the patients suffer.
    I’m a sensitive soul and I haven’t had to deal with all the health concerns that you have. But to be treated with sympathy and kindness is not too much to ask for. Or maybe it is these days?!
    Stay strong x

    • admintimm
      admintimm says:

      Thank you! I don’t want to slag off nurses or HCA’s. I’ve had amazing treatment by so many! But this one messed up.

      My husband is furious and has been in to complain. Unfortunately there was no management in after 5pm so they’ve given him a complaints form.

  6. Charlotte
    Charlotte says:

    When I asked the pharmacist about if I should have a flu jab, I was told that I couldn’t have it on the NHS despite having UC. Should I go ahead and pay for one, or go without?


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