Who is most at risk from flu?
Anyone can get the flu but it is more severe in people aged 65 years and over and anyone with a chronic medical condition. Chronic medical conditions include chronic heart conditions, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes mellitus and immunosupression due to disease or treatment. Pregnant women have also been found to be at increased risk of the complications of flu. These groups of people are targeted for influenza vaccination.
Who should be vaccinated?
Flu vaccination is strongly recommended for:
- Persons aged 65 and over
- Those aged 6 months and older with a long-term health condition such as
- Chronic heart disease (this includes anyone who has a history of having a "heart attack" or unstable angina)
- Chronic liver disease
- Chronic renal failure
- Chronic respiratory disease, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), 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 (these include anyone on treatment for cancer)
- Children aged 6 months and older
- with any condition that can affect lung function especially those attending special schools/day centres with cerebral palsy or 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
- Carers (the main carers of those in the at risk groups)
- People with regular contact with pigs, poultry or water fowl.
What is influenza (flu)?
Influenza is a highly infectious acute respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. Influenza affects people of all ages. Outbreaks of influenza occur almost every year, usually in winter. This is why it is also known as seasonal flu.
How can flu be prevented?
Flu can be prevented by vaccination. Flu vaccine is a safe, effective way to help prevent flu infection, avoiding hospitalisation, reducing flu related deaths and illnesses.
What are the side effects from the Vaccine?
The side effects to the vaccine are generally mild and may include soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site. Headache, fever, aches and pains may occur as your immune system responds to the vaccine. This is not the flu, this will pass in a day or two.
Who should be vaccinated with the Pneumococcal Vaccine?
- Everybody aged 65years and over.
- Those aged over 2 years and less than 65 who have any of the following:
- Asplenia or Hyposplenism. (splenectomy, sickle cell disease, haemoglobinopathies, coeliac syndrome)
- Children <5 years with a history of invasive pneumococcal disease.
- Chronic heart, respiratory or liver disease.
- Chronic renal disease or nephrotic syndrome.
- CSF leaks congenital or complicating skull fracture or neurosurgery.
- Diabetes mellitus.
- HIV infection.
- Immunosuppression due to disease or treatment.
- Individuals who have received, or are about to receive, cochlear implants.
- Post haematopoietic stem cell transplant, solid organ transplant.
Are the side effects from Vaccination?
The most commonly reported adverse reactions are localised redness and swelling at the injection site.
How often is the Pneumococcal Vaccine required?
Aged 65 and older:
A once only booster vaccine is recommended 5 years after the first vaccine for those who received a previous dose of Pneumococcal Vaccine at less than 65 years of age. Those aged age 65 or older who have received one dose of Pneumococcal do not require any further dose regardless of immune status.
Less than 65 years of age:
One booster vaccine is recommended 5 years after the first Pneumococcal vaccine for those whose antibody levels are likely to decline rapidly e.g. asplenia, hyposplenism, immunosuppression including HIV infection, chronic renal disease, nephrotic syndrome or renal transplant.
Those who received the Pneumococcal Vaccine at less than 65 years of age require one further booster at or after 65 years of age(five years after previous dose)