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Get the flu vaccine...not the flu!

Posted by Eamonn Brady on

Eamonn Brady is a pharmacist and the owner of Whelehans Pharmacy, Pearse St, Mullingar. If you have any health questions e-mail them to

Influenza (flu) is a highly infectious acute respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. It can affect people of any age. If you have not yet received the flu vaccine for 2015/16, it is not too late. You can still get the flu vaccination your GP surgery or local pharmacy. The flu vaccine is available from Whelehan’s pharmacy for €20.

Those considered more “at-risk” from flu

There are certain groups of at-risk people who are more at risk of serious complications or even death if they get flu. Health authorities strongly advise these groups get vaccinated. They include everyone aged 65 and older, children and adults with long-term illnesses such as asthma, diabetes and heart problems or any condition which weakens the immune system, residents of long stay institutions, people who attend schools or day centres for people with disabilities and pregnant women. Health care staff and carers are also advised get the flu vaccine (to protect their patients). Flu vaccination is free of charge in GP surgeries and pharmacies for medical card holders and GP visit card holders.


Symptoms of Flu

Symptoms of flu include sudden fever, chills, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, non-productive dry cough, exhaustion and weakness. Flu characteristically causes a temperature of 38 to 40° C that lasts 3-4 days.


Difference between cold and flu?

A cold will develop slowly over a few days with symptoms like a sore throat and a blocked or runny nose. The symptom of flu hits you suddenly and severely with symptoms like fever and muscle aches. Flu hits you like a brick. Often people suffering from a bad cold wrongly believe they have flu. Flu causes extreme exhaustion, muscle aches, severe sweats and leaves you so weak you will not be able to get out of bed. Work and other normal routines are not possible with flu.


Complications of flu

Most people recover from flu in 2-7 days, but in some people it can last for up to two or three weeks. Flu can be severe and can cause serious illness and death, especially in the very young and in the elderly. Serious respiratory complications can develop, including pneumonia and bronchitis. Older people and those with certain chronic medical conditions are at particular risk of these complications. Pregnant women and women up to six weeks after giving birth have also been found to be at increased risk of the complications of flu. Hospital treatment is needed in some cases, usually in the elderly or people with or serious long term conditions. 80 to 90% of reported deaths from influenza occur in the elderly, mainly from bacterial pneumonia (200 deaths per year in Ireland), but also from the underlying disease.

This article is shortened to fit within Newspaper space limits. More detailed information and leaflets is available in Whelehans


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