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Time for the Flu Vaccination!

The national flu immunisation programme aims to provide direct protection to those who are at higher risk of flu associated morbidity and mortality. 

Flu occurs every year, usually in the winter, which is why it's sometimes called seasonal flu.  It's a highly infectious disease with symptoms that come on very quickly.  Colds are much less serious and usually start gradually with a stuffy or runny nose and a sore throat.  A bad bout of flu can be much worse than a heavy cold.  The most common symptoms of flu are fever, chills, headache, aches and pains in the joints and muscles and extreme tiredness.  Healthy individuals usually recover within two to seven days, but for some the disease can lead to hospitalisation, permanent disability or even death. 

Who should consider having a flu vaccination?

  • everyone aged 65 and over 
  • everyone under 65 years of age who has a medical condition, including children and babies over six months of age 
  • all pregnant women, at any stage of pregnancy 
  • all two and three year-old children (provided they were aged two or three years old on 31 August of the current flu season) 
  • all children in primary school 
  • everyone living in a residential or nursing home 
  • everyone who care for an older or disabled person 
  • household contacts of anyone who is immunocompromised 
  • all frontline health and social care workers 

I had the flu vaccination last year.  Do I need another one this year? 

Yes; the flu vaccine for each winter helps provide protection against the strains of flu that are likely to be present and may be different from those circulating last year.  For this reason we strongly recommend that even if you were vaccinated last year, you should be vaccinated again this year.  In addition protection from the flu vaccine may only last about six months so you should have the flu vaccine each flu season. 

What do I need to do now?

Speak to your GP or practice nurse, or alternatively your local pharmacist, to book a vaccination appointment and get the best possible protection.  For pregnant women, the vaccine may also be available through maternity services.  The flu vaccine is free.  So make an appointment to receive the vaccine. 

It is best to have the flu vaccination in the autumn before any outbreaks of flu.  Remember that you need it every year, so don't assume you are protected because you had one last year. 

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Please note: The content in this article is over one year old, there may be newer guidance available.

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