Influenza or flu is a highly infectious and very common infection. Most flu outbreaks happen in late autumn or winter. There are many different strains of the flu virus. Symptoms of flu include, fever (high temperature), headaches, sore throat, weakness and exhaustion, all over aches and pains. Symptoms can last for up to 7 days and affects people of all ages. The advised treatment for the flu is rest and staying hydrated – You may need to stay in bed until your symptoms improve.
In some rare cases the winter flu can cause serious complications such as pneumonia.
3. Children aged 2-17 years. Children aged 2-17 years receive a nasal spray flu vaccine. Children who cannot be given the nasal spray flu vaccine (due to contraindications) may need to be given the vaccine by injection.
4. People who have close, regular contact with pigs, poultry or water fowl.
5. “The at risk group” – those aged 6-23 months (please note that infants/children aged 6 months to 8 years in an “at risk” group who have had no previous flu vaccine will require a second vaccination 4 weeks after the first) and 13 to 64 years who are at increased risk of Influenza related complications. The group includes those with:-
chronic heart disease, including acute coronary syndrome
chronic liver disease
chronic kidney failure
chronic respiratory disease, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis, moderate or severe asthma, or bronchopulmonary dysplasia
chronic neurological disease including multiple sclerosis, hereditary and degenerative disorders of the central nervous system
a body mass index (BMI) over 40
immunosuppression due to disease or treatment (including asplenia or hyposplenism, and all cancer patients)
children with a moderate to severe neurodevelopmental disorder such as cerebral palsy
children on long-term aspirin therapy
any condition that can compromise respiratory function, like spinal cord injury, seizure disorder or other neuromuscular disorder, especially people also attending special schools or day centres
6. Those likely to transmit influenza to a person at high risk for influenza complications:-
Health Care Workers, both for their own protection and for the protection of patients.
Only household contacts or carers of people who have an underlying chronic health condition or have Down syndrome are eligible to receive an influenza vaccine. A carer is described as someone who is providing an ongoing significant level of care to a person who is in need of care in the home due to illness or disability or frailty e.g. those in receipt of a carer’s allowance.
household contacts of people aged 65 years and older (who do not also have a chronic health condition), pregnant women, children aged 2-17 years or of healthcare workers or carers are not recommended the influenza vaccine.
The current vaccine is designed to protect against the viruses responsible for causing most cases of flu. The flu vaccine helps your immune system to produce antibodies to the influenza virus. If you have been vaccinated and you come into contact with the virus, these antibodies will attack it and stop you from getting sick. The flu vaccine starts to work within two weeks. This is a convenient way to stay protected from flu.
Anyone who has had a severe allergic reaction to any previous flu vaccine.
Anyone taking medicines called combination checkpoint inhibitors, for example, ipilimumab plus nivolumab (these are normally used to treat lung cancer/melanoma/other cancers when being used in clinical trials).
Anyone ill with a temperature greater than 38 degrees Celsius – you should wait until you are well before getting the vaccine.
Anyone with an egg allergy, should talk to their GP about getting the vaccine.
If a child has had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of the flu vaccine or any of its ingredients.
If a child has severe asthma or if they have been wheezy or needed their inhaler more than usual in the 3 days before the vaccine.
If a child is taking medicines called salicylates, which include aspirin.
If a child has a severely weakened immune system because of certain medical conditions or treatments.
If a child living with someone who has a severely weakened immune system – for example, a person who recently had a bone marrow transplant
Your child may not be able to have the nasal flu vaccine. Speak our pharmacist about getting the vaccine as an injection.
If your child is 6 months to 2 years of age and is in a high-risk group for flu, they’ll be offered a flu vaccine injection. This is because the nasal spray is not licensed for children under the age of 2.
Occasionally people develop side effects after a winter flu vaccine. Most of the possible side effects are not serious and will disappear on their own in a day or two.
Most common side effects can include fever, feeling unwell, shivering, fatigue, headache, sweating, muscle and joint pain and skin reactions such as redness, swelling, pain, bruising and hardening of the skin at the injection site.
Rare reactions include severe allergic reactions, nerve pain and inflammation, numbness, tingling, fits, thrombocytopenia (a blood disorder), vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels) and rare nerve disorders. Seek medical advice if you experience any of these.
are aged 6-23 months and 13 – 64 years and are NOT members of the “at risk group” but are in very close contact/caring for members of the “at risk group” (see point 5 here in who should get a flu vaccine)
The vaccine is €30 for anyone who falls outside of the “at risk” categories
With your permission we will inform your doctor that you have been vaccinated so that they can update your medical records. This is important as the vaccine should not be duplicated.
Being vaccinated is likely to provide effective protection against this year’s strain of the winter flu virus; however, there will still be a small chance of you catching flu.
After vaccine, it takes 10-21 days to be protected against flu. You cannot catch flu from a flu vaccine.
Flu vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines and boosters can be administered on the same day. We would normally recommend having them in different arms unless this is not possible.
Blood tests for HIV, hepatitis C and HTLV1 should not be taken for two weeks following vaccine because there is a possibility of a false positive result.
On rare occasions, anaphylaxis may occur. We have procedures in place to deal with this.
If you are concerned about any aspects of your vaccine or about any side effects, you should talk to our pharmacist.
It’s important that you stay in the pharmacy for 5 minutes after your vaccine, just in case you have any immediate side effects.
To provide you with the most protection from catching winter flu, it is recommended you receive the winter flu vaccine every year. Even if you were vaccinated last year, you should still get your vaccine this year.
For further information regarding this year’s flu vaccine please see the HSE resources here