Flu Vaccine: Crohn’s and Colitis

17 September 2019

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Our Helpline Team has received some queries recently about the flu vaccine and whether people with Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are eligible for it.

It is recommended that people with Crohn's or Colitis have the flu vaccine to reduce the risks of them getting the virus. This is regardless of whether or not you are taking steroids, immunosuppressant or biological drugs.

IBD teams will also recommend that children with Crohn's or Colitis have a regular flu injection, however, the nasal spray flu vaccine which is available for younger children is not recommended for those taking immunosuppressants or with weakened immune systems. This is because it contains the live forms of modified flu virus, but it should still be possible to have the inactivated injectable flu vaccine. It is best to check with your child's IBD team whether it would be more suitable for them to have the nasal spray, or the injectable vaccine.

Flu is an infectious illness that spreads rapidly through the coughs and sneezes of people who are carrying the virus. The flu vaccine makes it less likely that you will catch flu and, if you have had the vaccine and do get flu, you are more likely to recover quickly.

This information has been confirmed by one of our medical advisors but, before having the vaccine, you may wish to discuss it with your own medical team. 

Both the BSG Guidelines and IBD Standards recommend that people taking immunosuppressants or biological drugs are given the flu vaccine. Although this guidance is not mandatory, if you have been told by your doctor that you are not eligible for the flu jab, you can point them in the direction of this guidance.