Flu jab “may cut” stroke risk by a quarter

A recent report has revealed that people who have the seasonal flu jab are 24% less likely to suffer a stroke, according to The Daily Telegraph and analysed by Bazian for NHS Choices.

The report is based on the results of a large study, which used the GP database for England and Wales to access data on almost 50,000 people who had suffered a stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA or a so-called “mini” stroke) over an eight-year period. Researchers then matched them to a person of the same age and gender who had attended the GP around the same time (these people are known as the “controls”). They then compared how likely they were to have been given the seasonal flu vaccine before the date of the stroke or TIA.

They found that slightly more controls had received the flu vaccine before the date: 50.8%, compared to 50.6% of people who had had a stroke or TIA. This meant that, overall, having the flu vaccine reduced the risk of a person having a stroke by about a quarter (there was no link with TIAs).

The research benefits from a large quantity of reliable data, with a number of health and lifestyle factors that may have influenced the results also adjusted. It is plausible that a link exists between the protection against flu strains the vaccine provides and the risk of having a stroke.

The researchers summarise by saying they “reinforce current recommendations for annual influenza vaccination” with “potential added benefit for stroke prevention”.

However, the flu vaccine only seemed to protect against a stroke if given early in the flu season: September to mid-November (26% risk reduction, OR 0.74, 95% CI 0.70 to 0.78). Giving the vaccine late in the flu season (mid-November to February) did not result in a significantly reduced risk.

Flu vaccine was not significantly associated with being at risk of TIA. Neither was pneumococcal vaccination significantly associated with being at risk of a stroke or TIA.

Even if the link between the flu jab and reduced stroke risk is unproven, it is always a good idea to get the jab if you are in one of the groups recommended to receive it. This is if you are:

•65 years of age or over


•have a long-term (chronic) medical condition such as asthma or diabetes

•living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility

•receive a carer’s allowance, or you are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill

•a healthcare worker with direct patient contact or a social care worker


Article taken in part from www.nhs.co.uk to read full article click here Analysis by Bazian. Edited by NHS Choices.



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