Getting the influenza (flu) vaccine is a safe and effective way to help prevent flu, avoid hospitalisation and reduce flu-related illness and death. Flu vaccination services have been offered by community pharmacists in Ireland since 2011 and have been well received by the public due to the value, convenience and accessibility they provide.
Seasonal flu (also known as influenza) is a highly infectious illness caused by the flu virus. There are four influenza viruses – A, B, C and D. Influenza A and B cause the flu outbreaks that we are familiar with. The virus infects the lungs and upper airways, causing a sudden high temperature and general aches and pains. It may also cause symptoms such as a headache, dry cough, runny nose, loss of appetite, fatigue and nausea. The cough can be severe and can last for two weeks or more. Most people recover from fever and other symptoms within about a week with rest, fluids and medications such as paracetamol and ibuprofen which may alleviate some of these symptoms. However, influenza can also cause severe illness or death, especially in the very young and elderly.
The flu virus is normally spread through coughing or sneezing. The virus can survive on worktops and objects, especially in low temperatures and low humidity. The flu can be contracted by touching a surface with the virus on it and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose. The virus can live on a hard surface for up to 24 hours and a soft surface for around 20minutes.
What is the flu vaccine and how does it work?
The seasonal flu vaccine helps your immune system to produce antibodies to fight the influenza virus. When someone who has been vaccinated comes into contact with the virus, these antibodies attack the virus and prevent infection. There are a number of different variations of the flu virus and the type of flu virus in circulation can change each year. This is why a new flu vaccine needs to be given every year.
Who should get the flu vaccine?
Anyone over 10 years of age is eligible to receive the vaccine at your Life Pharmacy. For certain ‘at-risk’ groups, the flu vaccine is highly recommended as they are more likely to experience serious complications if they catch the flu.
If you are in one of the following ‘at-risk’ groups and have a medical card, you may be entitled to receive the vaccine free of charge*.
- Those aged 65 and over
- Those with a long-term medical condition such as; diabetes, heart, lung or liver disease, moderate or severe asthma, COPD, Cystic Fibrosis, MS
- Those whose immune system is impaired due to disease or treatment
- Most cancer patients
- Healthcare workers and carers
- Residents of nursing home and other long stay institutions
- Those with BMI (Body Mass Index) over40
- All pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
- Those in contact with regular close contact with poultry, water fowl or pigs
- Anyone living with someone in an ‘at-risk’ group
The flu season lasts from October to April. The vaccine is available in September (subject to availability) and the earlier you get it, the better. Your Life Pharmacist can provide the flu vaccination in our private consultation room in the pharmacy. They will check that the vaccine is suitable for you and they can either give you the vaccine or book you for an appointment at a time that suits.
If you have any questions, please visit your local Life Pharmacist.
*Charges apply for all other patients. Ask your pharmacy team for more details.