Flu Vaccination Advice
Understanding the Seasonal Flu (Influenza):
The seasonal flu, caused by the influenza virus, is a highly contagious illness that affects people of all ages, primarily during the winter months. This comprehensive guide provides information on seasonal flu, its symptoms, and the importance of getting the flu vaccine. We'll also discuss who should consider getting vaccinated and where you can receive the flu vaccine.
The seasonal flu is a viral infection that primarily targets the upper respiratory tract. It is characterised by the following symptoms:
- High fever
- General aches and pains
- Rapid onset of symptoms
Distinction Between Common Cold and Seasonal Flu:
It's important to differentiate between the common cold and the seasonal flu, as their symptoms may overlap. Flu symptoms come on rapidly and can include fever, aches, headache, and fatigue. In contrast, a common cold typically begins with a sore throat and a runny or blocked nose, with milder symptoms overall.
Why You Should Get the Flu Vaccine:
The flu vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect yourself and others from the flu. Here's why it's highly recommended:
- Prevention: Getting vaccinated helps prevent flu-related illness, hospitalisation, and even death.
- Ease of access via Community Pharmacist Services: In Ireland, community pharmacists have been offering flu vaccination services since 2011, providing a convenient and accessible way for the public to get vaccinated
How the Flu Vaccine Works:
The seasonal flu vaccine stimulates your immune system to produce antibodies that can fight off the influenza virus. When vaccinated individuals encounter the virus, these antibodies help prevent infection. The flu vaccine must be updated annually because the circulating flu virus strains can change.
Who Should Get the Flu Vaccine:
The flu vaccine is recommended for the following groups:
- Children aged 2-12 years
- Those aged 65 and older
- Healthcare workers and carers
- Residents of nursing homes and long-stay institutions
- Those in regular close contact with poultry, waterfowl, or pigs
- Anyone living with someone in an 'at-risk' group
- Individuals in 'at-risk' groups, particularly those more susceptible to serious complications if they contract the flu, including:
- Individuals with long-term medical conditions like diabetes, heart or lung disease
- Those with weakened immune systems due to disease or treatment (e.g., most cancer patients)
- Individuals with a BMI over 40
- Pregnant women (safe at any stage of pregnancy)
- chronic liver disease
- chronic kidney failure
- Down Syndrome
View the full risk of 'At Risk' Categories here
When and Where to Get the Flu Vaccine:
The flu season in Ireland typically lasts from October to March The vaccine becomes available in September, and it's advisable to get vaccinated early for better protection. You can receive the flu vaccine at your local Life Pharmacy, where pharmacists can assess your suitability for the vaccine and administer it in a private consultation room.
For more information and to address any questions, please visit your nearest Life Pharmacist or click here. Note that charges may apply for patients not eligible for free vaccination.