What’s the fuss about flu?
Flu is caused by the influenza virus, so antibiotics don’t work. It’s easily spread from person to person. Most healthy people with flu get better after a week, but flu can cause serious problems for the elderly or people with chronic illnesses. In Ireland, thousands of people are hospitalized and hundreds of people die each year from complications of flu.
Who should get the flu vaccine?
• Everyone aged 65 and over
• Everyone aged 6 months and older with a long-term health condition such as heart, liver, kidney, neurological or lung disease, diabetes or cancer
• Pregnant women (at any stage of pregnancy; it protects baby up to the first 6 months of life)
• People working in healthcare services and carers
• Nursing home residents
• People in regular contact with pigs, poultry or water fowl
Where is the safest place to get the vaccine?
Your GP practice is the safest place to get the vaccine.
How much does it cost?
The flu vaccine is free if you have a medical card. If you don’t, it costs €25 in The Ashe Street Clinic.
Are there side effects?
Yes – all medications and vaccines may have side effects. However the most common ones from the flu vaccine are mild, such as soreness at the injection site.
Is it safe?
Yes! Severe allergic reactions to the flu vaccine are very rare.
Will it give me flu?
No! The vaccine contains a killed virus that cannot give you flu. You may experience some aches, but this doesn’t mean you are getting flu.
I got the flu vaccine last year - do I need it again?
Yes! The flu virus strain changes every year, so you need to get it every year!
Can I get flu despite getting the vaccine?
Occasionally, yes. The flu vaccine doesn’t protect against all strains of flu or the common cold. Also, it takes about 2 weeks to work. Nevertheless, getting the vaccine is the best way to prevent flu.
When should I get it?
The flu season is from October to April. The 2018/2019 flu vaccine is available now.
By Dr Kate Vernon
Copyright © Dr. David Buckley