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Flu Vaccine: The Facts and Common Misconceptions

What is the flu?

Flu, or influenza is a contagious disease affecting the nose throat and sometimes lungs. Appearance can be mild to severe and can sometimes lead to death, especially those most vulnerable.

Symptoms can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Head ache
  • Body aches
  • Chills
  • Runny or stuffy nose

Most believe it spreads through the tiny droplets people make when they sneeze or cough that land in the mouths or noses of those around them.

Who are most at risk?

Certain people are at a higher risk of developing complications, these include people that:

  • Are over the age of 65.
  • Are pregnant
  • Have a chronic illness e.g. diabetes, chronic heart disease, etc.
  • Work in healthcare
  • Are carers
  • Live in a nursing home
  • Are in regular contact with pigs, poultry or water fowl.

The Flu Vaccine:

Every flu season, the vaccine given protects against the three most prevalent strains of influenza, as set out by the World Health Organisation. Therefore, it is imperative to get the vaccine every year.  Ideally, you should get your vaccine starting from September but anytime during flu season helps in preventing the flu.

People in the at-risk category can receive the flu vaccine for free, however, a consultation fee may be applied. Over 18s should get their vaccine from their GP, Pharmacist or Occupational Health Department.

Don’t get the flu vaccine if you have previously had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to it previously. And remember that the flu vaccine is the only known preventative for the flu.

Common Misconceptions:

Can I get the flu from the vaccine? – You cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine as it contains inactivated (killed) viruses, and therefore are not infectious. Their sole purpose is to produce antibodies to fight the influenza virus if it enters your body.

Do I need to get it every year? – Yes, the WHO decides which strains of influenza are most prominent that year and these decide the type of flu vaccine given. Therefore, last year’s flu vaccine may not protect against this year’s flu strains.

Why do some people feel unwell after the vaccine? – Some people can get mild reactions to the flu shot which can include redness, soreness and tenderness around the site where the shot was given. These usually occur just after the vaccine is given. If you notice any redness, swelling or tenderness around the area over the following days return to the pharmacy.

Does the flu vaccine work immediately? –  No, it takes around two weeks for the antibodies – they fight off the influenza virus – to develop in your body.

Flu Vaccine in Ireland

Flu vaccines have been given to millions of people world wide for over 60 years. In Ireland, uptake of flu vaccines has been increasing year on year.

The flu vaccine not only prevents oneself from contrating a crippling infection but is also beneficial towards the statre of our healthcare system. Influenza is responsible for 3-5 million cases of severe illness each year globally. By getting the flu vaccine (especially the at-risk category), it reduces the number of people coming into hospitals with severe influenza and contracting secondary illnesses such as nosocomial (hospital-borne) infections.

Flu vaccines are available in GPs and now pharmacies since the 2011/2012 flu season. Uptake in pharmacies has increased also while also increasing in GPs. Therefore, there’s no excuse not to get the flu vaccine.

This season’s (2018-2019) flu vaccine is called Influvac and is manufactured by Mylan – Patient Information Leaflet.

The three strains in this year’s vaccination are:

  • an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like strain
  • an A/Singapore/INFIMH-16-0019/2016 (H3N2)-like virus;
  • a B/Colorado/06/2017-like virus (B/Victoria/2/87 lineage);

What can Stratus Healthcare do for you?

Use our app to book your flu vaccine now or give us a call. Walk-in flu vaccines are possible too. Download our app here.

If you have any queries about the flu vaccine or the flu in general you can contact one of our pharmacies and talk to a pharmacist or use our PharmaChat service to message a pharmacist instantly.

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