This season’s flu (Influenza) vaccines arrived. If you have a ‘Medical Card’ or ‘GP Visit Card’ both the vaccine and administration is free. If you do not have a ‘Medical Card’ or ‘GP Visit Card’, the vaccine is free but administration fee is payable.
This year’s flu jab (2017/18)
The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that this year’s influenza vaccine contains the following strains:
- an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like strain
- an A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)-like strain
- a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like strain
These are the strains estimated by WHO that are most likely to be circulating this year.
Further information is available at here.
Vaccination is recommended for all but strongly recommended for those belonging to any of the so-called “at-risk” groups. These include:
- Persons aged 65 and over
- Those aged 6 months and older with a long-term health condition such as:
- Chronic heart disease
- Chronic liver disease
- Chronic renal failure
- Chronic respiratory disease, including cystic fibrosis, moderate or severe asthma or bronchopulmonary dysplasia
- Chronic neurological disease including multiple sclerosis, hereditary and degenerative disorders of the central nervous system
- Diabetes mellitus
- Down syndrome
- Morbid obesity i.e. body mass index over 40
- Immunosuppression due to disease or treatment, including asplenia or splenic dysfunction
- Children aged 6 months and older
- with any condition (e.g. cognitive dysfunction, spinal cord injury, seizure disorder, or other neuromuscular disorder) that can compromise respiratory function especially those attending special schools/day centres with moderate to severe neurodevelopmental disorders such as cerebral palsy and intellectual disability
- on long-term aspirin therapy (because of the risk of Reyes syndrome)
- Pregnant women (vaccine can be given at any stage of pregnancy)
- Healthcare workers
- Residents of nursing homes and other long stay institutions
- People with regular contact with pigs, poultry or water fowl
The seasonal flu vaccine is offered free of charge to at-risk groups to protect them from catching flu and developing serious complications.
This winter it is recommended that all pregnant women should have the seasonal flu vaccine irrespective of their stage of pregnancy.
This is because there is good evidence to suggest that pregnant women have an increased risk of developing complications if they develop flu.
Studies have also shown that the inactivated flu vaccine can be safely and effectively administered during any trimester of pregnancy. The vaccine itself does not present an increased risk of complications to either the mother or baby.
Employers are responsible for ensuring that arrangements are in place for their healthcare staff to have the seasonal flu vaccine.
Outbreaks of flu can occur in health and social care settings with staff, patients and residents at risk of being affected.
Therefore, it is very important that healthcare workers protect themselves by having the flu vaccine and in doing so prevent the spread of flu to colleagues and other members of the community.
If you care for someone who is elderly or disabled, you should also be vaccinated against seasonal flu and you should ensure that the person you are caring for has the flu vaccine as well.
Who should not have the seasonal flu jab?
If you are ill with a fever, do not have your flu jab until you have recovered.
You should not have the seasonal flu vaccine if:
- you have had a previous allergic reaction to a flu vaccine (rare), or
- you have a serious allergy to chicken eggs (very rare), because the vaccine is prepared in chicken eggs.