Time to think about your Flu Vaccine
At Leahy’s Pharmacy we are preparing for the winter season amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Now is the time to think about pre-booking your flu vaccine with your GP or Pharmacist.
What is the Flu?
Seasonal flu (also known as influenza) is a highly infectious illness caused by the flu virus. The virus infects your lungs and upper airways, causing a sudden high temperature and general aches and pains, headache, weakness and exhaustion. Symptoms can last for up to one week. You may need to stay in bed until your symptoms get better. Flu affects people of all ages. In some people flu can cause serious complications such as pneumonia.
How serious is Flu?
The Flu virus is an unpredictable virus. If you are healthy you will usually recover in 7 days. But Flu can be severe and can cause serious illness and death. Complications of flu include bronchitis, pneumonia, ear infections and rarely acute encephalopathy (swelling of the brain). Serious complications of flu are more likely if you have a chronic medical condition or if you are aged 65 years or older. Pregnant women are also at increased risk of flu complications. In Ireland, between 200 and 500 people, mainly older people, die from flu each winter. Every year, around the world, flu causes between 3 and 5 million cases of severe disease and up to 646, 000 deaths.
The Flu Vaccine
This year, the seasonal flu vaccine protects against the 4 strains of flu virus recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the strains most likely to be circulating this season. The flu viruses that are circulating change every year. This is why you need to get a new vaccine each year. You should get your flu vaccination from September to be protected for flu season. People 10 years and over should get the vaccine from their GP or Pharmacist or Occupational Health Department. Younger children should get the vaccine from their GP. The flu vaccine is free if you are in an at-risk group or if you have a medical card or a GP visit card. The flu vaccine doesn’t contain any live viruses – it cannot give you the flu.
Who should get the Flu Vaccine?
Vaccination is recommended if you are:
- Aged 65 and over
- Have a long-term medical condition such as diabetes, heart, kidney, liver, lung or neurological disease
- People whose immune system is impaired due to disease or treatment
- People with a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 40
- People with haemoglobinopathy
- People with Down's syndrome
- Pregnant women (can be given at any stage of pregnancy)
- Residents of nursing homes and other long stay institutions
- Healthcare workers
- People with regular close contact with poultry, waterfowl or pigs
- A household contact to at-risk person
Booking your Flu vaccine
The flu vaccine is free this year for the following groups:
- Children aged between 2 – 12 years
- People in “at-risk groups” (listed above) between the ages of 6 months and 69 years