Tipperary people are urged to vaccinate against influenza
The HSE is urging people in at-risk groups to get vaccinated against influenza as flu season starts
According to Dr Anna Clarke, consultant in Public Health Medicine, HSE National Immunisation Office, “This year’s flu season is just beginning. Flu vaccine prevents hospitalisations and deaths. The best protection against flu is the flu vaccine. All people in risk groups should get the vaccine if they have not got it already. As the vaccine takes two weeks to work, the HSE is urging people to get the vaccine now.”
The flu vaccine is a lifesaver because flu can be a very serious and sometimes deadly disease, with potentially 1,000 flu related deaths in Ireland during a severe flu season, she said.
Indications so far suggest that national uptake figures show that 54 per cent of people aged 65 and over who hold a medical card or GP visit card received the flu vaccine during the 2016-2017 flu season. This uptake rate is on a par with the 2015-2016 flu season. However it is less than the World Health Organization target of 75 per cent.
“The vaccine reduces infection and associated illnesses and hospitalisation. Flu is very infectious and can cause potentially serious illnesses especially for older people, those who have a chronic illness, those with weakened immune systems and pregnant women.
Seasonal flu vaccine can be given at any stage of pregnancy and also protects the baby.
The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu as it does not contain any live flu virus and all those at risk should get vaccinated as soon as possible this year to make sure that they are protected, said Dr Clarke.
The symptoms of flu usually develop over a matter of a few hours and include a high temperature, sore muscles, dry cough, headache and sore throat.
Flu is different from the common cold, which tends to come on more gradually and usually includes a runny nose and a normal temperature.
“Flu is spread by coughing and sneezing so people should cover their nose and mouth with a tissue, disposing of the tissue as soon as possible and washing their hands with soap and water as soon as possible to help prevent the spread of flu,” she said.
“Anyone who gets flu should stay at home, rest, drink plenty of fluids and use over-the-counter flu remedies to ease symptoms. People in high-risk categories should contact their GP if they develop flu symptoms” said Dr Clarke.
The following groups of at-risk people should be vaccinated against seasonal influenza:
n everyone aged 65 years and over
n anyone over six months of age with a long term illness requiring regular medical follow-up such as chronic lung disease, chronic heart disease, diabetes or those with lower immunity due to disease or treatment
n pregnant women
n residents of nursing homes and other long stay facilities
n healthcare workers
It is important for all those in the at-risk groups to be vaccinated again this year as the virus strains in the vaccine have changed since last year. This year’s seasonal flu vaccine protects against the three common flu virus strains expected to be circulating this year based on advice from the World Health Organization.