The Health Service Executive (HSE) today reminded everyone at risk of influenza this winter to ‘Get the Vaccine, not the Flu!’ This year’s national flu vaccination campaign is targeting the three key at risk groups for influenza - everyone aged over 65, health care staff and carers, and younger people with long term illnesses such as asthma, heart problems etc.
The HSE’s dedicated immunisation website, www.immunisation.ie provides details on the flu vaccination, along with answers to any questions people may have about flu.
Dr. Brenda Corcoran from the HSE’s National Immunisation Office, today reminded everyone in the at risk groups to visit their GP for flu vaccination. “Flu is a very infectious and potentially serious illness and a new flu vaccine must be given each year. For older people and those who have a chronic illness, flu can cause severe illness and can even be life threatening. All those at risk should get the flu vaccine this year to make sure that they are protected” she said.
The flu vaccine is free for the key risk groups:
Ø Everyone aged over 65 years.
Ø Younger people with chronic illnesses - e.g. long term heart, lung or kidney disease, diabetes or any condition which results in a suppressed immune system.
Ø All health care workers and carers.
People with either a medical card or GP visit card in the key risk groups will not be charged to visit the doctor for flu vaccine. GPs may charge a consultation fee to administer the vaccine to patients without a medical card or GP visit card, however the vaccine is supplied free of charge to those in the key risk groups.
In addition to the annual flu vaccination all those at risk should also receive pneumococcal vaccine which is available from GPs. GPs charge a consultation fee to administer the vaccine to patients without a medical card or GP visit card, however the vaccine is supplied free of charge.Pneumococcal vaccine is not required annually so those at risk should check with their GP.
Dr. Crocoran also sought to dispel a common myth – ‘The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu. We want to increase the uptake of flu vaccine for all the at risk groups to make sure our most vulnerable groups are kept safe this winter’.
There are two different pneumococcal vaccines:
Ø One for those over 65 and at risk as above.
Ø Another which has now been added to the childhood vaccine schedule and for which there is an ongoing catch up campaign for all those under 2 years of age.
Signs of Symptoms of Influenza:
Symptoms of the flu include fever, chills, headache, aches and pains, and sometimes a sore throat and dry cough. The flu is also characterised by a very sudden onset of symptoms.
Last updated on: 10 / 10 / 2008