The Health Service Executive this week reminded everyone at risk of annual influenza this winter to ‘Get the vaccine, not the flu’. This year, because of the swine flu pandemic there will be two vaccination campaigns, firstly one for the seasonal flu and later on, one for the swine flu vaccine.
The national annual flu vaccination campaign is targeting the usual three key at-risk groups for seasonal influenza — everyone aged over 65, health care staff and carers, and younger people with long-term illnesses such as asthma, heart problems, etc.
Dr Diarmuid O’Donovan, director of public health, HSE West, sought to dispel a common myth — the annual flu vaccine cannot give you the flu.
The annual flu vaccine will not protect against swine flu. When swine flu vaccine is licensed it will be offered to everyone, starting with people with long term medical conditions and health care workers.
In addition to annual flu vaccination, everyone in the risk groups should also receive pneumococcal vaccine which is available free of charge from GPs.