Flu: Protect Yourself This Winter
What is flu?
Flu is a common infection of the upper respiratory tract caused by a virus. It usually occurs during the winter months. For most people, it is an unpleasant but not life-threatening illness.
If I do contract the flu, how long will it last for?
In general, symptoms peak after two to three days and you should begin to feel better after five to eight days. However, a cough and feelings of tiredness may last for up to three weeks.
What are the symptoms of the flu as opposed to a cold?
The flu is a much more severe illness in comparison to a cold, usually lasting 7-10 days. Onset of symptoms will occur very suddenly and usually involve a high fever, shivering attacks, muscular pains, headache, cough, and severe tiredness. Flu can also cause severe illness or death, especially in very young and elderly. Much less severe, a cold last 2 or 3 days and usually involves a runny or stuffy nose, mild headache, sinus congestion, and sneezing.
How can I protect myself against the flu?
Prevention is always better than cure, so pharmacists recommend getting the flu vaccine each year. The number of different variations of the flu virus and the type of flu virus in circulation can change each year. The vaccine helps your immune system to produce antibodies to fight the flu virus. When someone who has been vaccinated comes into contact with the virus these antibodies attack the virus, preventing infection. The flu season lasts from October to April. The vaccine is available from September and the earlier you get it, the better, before a flu outbreak becomes widespread. However, you can still get the vaccine later in the winter and it will still be effective. It is important to note that the flu vaccine cannot give you the flu.
Who are the at-risk patients?
Anyone over the age is 18 is eligible to receive the flu vaccine at your Allcare Pharmacy. For certain ‘at-risk’ groups, the flu vaccine is highly recommended as you are more likely to experience serious complications if you catch the illness. If you are in one of these ‘at-risk’ groups and have a medical card or doctor visit card, you are entitled to receive the vaccine free of charge:
- Those aged 65 and over
- Those with a long-term medical condition such as diabetes, heart or lung disease
- Those whose immune system is impaired due to disease or treatment
- Those with a body mass index (BMI) over 40
- Pregnant women (can be given the vaccine at any stage of pregnancy)
- Residents of nursing homes and other long stay institutions
- Healthcare workers
- People with regular close contact with poultry, waterfowl or pigs
- Anyone living with someone in an at-risk group
Speak to your pharmacist to find out if you are eligible for a free flu vaccine.
Who is the vaccine not suitable for?
The vaccine should not be given to those with a history of severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine or any of its constituents. It is also not suitable for patients on certain combinations of medicines that affect their immune system.
Is the vaccine immediately effective?
The vaccine is not immediately effective, and it usually takes between 10 to 14 days for your immune system to respond and become protected fully.
We care for you & your health, which is why we offer a range of health services in our pharmacies, including the Flu Vaccination in selected Allcare Pharmacies. Call or visit your local store to see if you can avail of the service now, or enquire about booking your flu vaccine in selected stores below.