Flu season has officially begun with the publication of the first report on the spread of the illness by the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre. The HPSC report shows that the number of cases of flu being reported by GPs is still low, with only seven cases of influenza-like symptoms officially reported in the past week. However, the risk of an outbreak increases significantly around this time of year ,prompting a timely reminder of the importance of the flu vaccine.
Stocks of this year’s flu vaccine have already been arriving at CarePlus pharmacies around the country, with community pharmacists echoing calls for at-risk groups to get the important inoculation sooner rather than later.
Influenza, or seasonal flu, is a highly infectious illness caused by the flu virus, affecting the lungs and upper airways, bringing with it a sudden high temperature and general aches and pains.
The symptoms can last for up to a week, and people can lose their appetite, feel nauseous and have a dry cough, and they may need to stay in bed until they’re better.
Martin Slattery from CarePlus pharmacy in Headford, Galway, said: “The sooner you get the flu vaccine, the sooner you’re protected. It can take two to three weeks for it to take full effect, so I’d urge people who need it to act now. It’s really important that people in at-risk groups like the over 65s, diabetes patients, pregnant women and those with chronic illnesses, get the jab. Some people qualify for a free dose, and we can advise them on that.”
Martin also insists that while a mild reaction can happen, the vaccine is safe. “There can be some mild soreness or redness at the site of the vaccination, and maybe some cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, but the vaccine absolutely cannot give you the flu. If you’re in an at risk group, the flu can be a potentially life-threatening illness and people die in this country from it every year.”
Experts at CarePlus pharmacies around the country are available to give advice on this year’s vaccination.