According to the World Health Organization (WHO) vaccination is one of the most effective ways to prevent diseases. A vaccine helps the body’s immune system to recognize and fight pathogens like viruses or bacteria, which then keeps us safe from the diseases they cause. Vaccines help to serve as a protection against more than 25 devastating or extreme life-threatening diseases, including measles, polio, tetanus, diphtheria, meningitis, influenza, tetanus, typhoid and cervical cancer.
Influenza popularly known as the ‘Flu’ is a highly infectious illness caused by the flu virus, the virus infects the lungs and upper airways, causing a sudden high temperature and general aches and pains, headache, weakness and exhaustion. Symptoms can last for up to one week. You may need to stay in bed until your symptoms get better. Flu affects people of all ages. In some people flu can cause serious complications such as pneumonia.
The importance of getting the flu-vaccination cannot be overemphasized because the vaccination against a disease is as important as the treatment of the disease itself. This year’s flu vaccine has been made available since October 2019 until the end of April 2020 and is available for free to people in the at-risk group, but they may be charged a consultation fee, unless the individual has a medical card or a GP visit card.
The HSE stated that people susceptible to the flu are people from 65years of age and over, pregnant women, children or adults with a long-term health condition, people who work in healthcare, if you are a carer or have had household contact with anyone at increased medical risk of flu, if you live in a nursing home or other long-term care facility and if you are in regular contact with pigs, poultry or water fowl. This is because these people tend to have a weaker immune system which might be unable to fight this virus properly and if proper care is not given it might lead to death.
“The flu shot is NOT always about you. It’s about protecting those around you, who cannot always protect themselves” said nurse Catherine Amanda Bitz.
This year, the seasonal flu vaccine protects against the 4 strains of flu virus recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the strains most likely to be circulating this season. In Ireland, between 200 and 500 people, mainly older people, die from flu each winter. Every year, around the world, flu causes between 3 and 5 million cases of severe disease and up to 646, 000 deaths. says the HSE.
The flu vaccine helps the immune system of an individual produce antibodies to fight influenza virus. If an individual has been vaccinated and he or she encounters the virus, the antibodies will attack the virus and prevent the individual from getting sick. The vaccine begins to work within two weeks.
Careplus Pharmacy outlines some of the symptoms of the flu include; high temperature (38 C) or above often accompanied by chills, a cough that can either be dry or chesty, a headache, extreme fatigue, aching muscles, a sore throat, difficulty sleeping, runny or blocked nose and loss of appetite.
However, the list of symptoms which accompany the flu may vary from person to person, but some warning symptoms which will require immediate medical attention include; rapidly increasing difficulty breathing, sharp chest pains that make it difficult to breathe, a severe earache and uncharacteristic changes in behavior such as becoming confused or extremely drowsy.
A leading figure in the HSE says medical staff not getting the flu vaccine is leading to outbreaks in hospitals.
28 people have died as a result of the flu so far this season, up from 22 on this day last week. It comes as hospitals have this week seen the highest numbers waiting on trolleys since records began.
The HSE’s – Assistant National Director of Health Protection – says the take up needs to be higher.
“I mean, if nobody was being vaccinated in hospitals, flu would fly around hospitals massively.” said Dr Kelleher.
“By the very nature of getting staff vaccinated, that reduces the chance for flu to get transmitted around the hospital.
“The more we get people to be vaccinated, the better it will be within our system.”