It is not too late to get your flu vaccination and the HSE is now urging people in high-risk groups to get vaccinated.
Dr Kevin Kelleher, Assistant National Director of Public and Child Health with the HSE, explained: “We know this year’s vaccine is a good match for the current strain of flu and the best way to prevent flu is by getting vaccinated. Flu can be a very serious and sometimes deadly disease.
“People need to remember that flu causes severe illness and death in Ireland every year. That is why those who are most vulnerable to the complications of flu need to get vaccinated. The flu vaccine is the only defence against flu, yet every year many people in the at-risk groups fail to get vaccinated and so put themselves at risk of serious illness or even death.
“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.”
In an effort to curtail the spread of flu the HSE is also advising parents not to send their children back to school if they have flu-like illness or any of the associated symptoms i.e. a high temperature, aches and pains or chesty cough.
Anyone who gets flu is advised to stay at home, rest, drink plenty of fluids and use over-the-counter remedies like paracetamol to ease symptoms. Anyone in one of the high-risk groups should contact their GP if they develop influenza symptoms and if they need to visit their GP or the Emergency Department, are advised to phone first to explain that they might have flu.
The HSE also advises that covering your cough and sneeze can help stop the spread of flu and advises people to use a tissue and place it immediately in the bin, then wash hands or use a hand sanitizer. Don't cough or sneeze into your hands in order to avoid spreading germs to everything you touch.
The influenza vaccine is available free of charge from GPs for people in at-risk groups, and from pharmacists, for everyone in at-risk groups aged 10 years and over. An administration charge may apply to people who don’t hold medical cards or GP visit cards.