The seasonal flu vaccine is recommended by the World health organisation each year by determining the three most common strains of the flu virus. This year they are warning that you do not use the nasal spray vaccine because it’s effectiveness has not been determined. It is recommended to get your flu vaccine early before flu season is in full swing as it can take two to three weeks for the antibodies to get to work. As the flu viruses change annually it is important to get the flu vaccine every year.
In Ireland the flu vaccine is free to people in the at Risk groups but they may be charged for their consultation unless they have a GP or medical card.
In the UK the flu vaccine is free to anyone at risk who is over the age of 18 and at risk of flu including anyone over the age of 65, pregnant women and children aged six months to two years.
At Risk Groups
- People in the at risk groups are urged by the NHS and HSE to get the Flu jab to prevent flu complications such as pneumonia.
- 65 years and over
- Long-term health condition
- Carer or work in healthcare
- In regular contact with pigs or poultry
- Make sure you are well enough to receive the vaccine and have never had any previous allergies to the vaccine.
The flu jab is not 100% effective as the virus mutate and change but it is our best chance against such an unpredictable virus. The flu can cause illness in children and in adult groups at risk even death. If you do receive the flu jab and manage to contract the flu it will be likely a milder dose with a shorter lifespan.
Where to get the flu Jab?
You can receive the flu jab from your GP (this is the only place recommended that children receive the flu jab), from a local pharmacy that offers the flu jab, from your midwifery service in the UK, or your occupational health department in Ireland.
Heavy Outbreak of H3N2 virus
This year Australia and Newzealand saw their worst outbreaks of flu on record following the outbreak of the H3N2 virus. Australia has confirmed 98,000 cases of the flu this season. This is the same virus that hit Ireland last year which particularly puts a strain on the elderly. This then leads to more people being hospitalised. Irish hospitals are being warned to expect a heavy outbreak at the end of 2017/ start of 2018.
"The reality is that influenza starts in Asia and makes its way. It follows the same pattern every year: it makes its way to western Europe in the early part of the calendar year.” – Dr Hickey.
This has prompted the HSE to call all at risk groups to get the flu vaccine.
Here at RWA We help Pharmacies identify patients at risk of flu by BNF category.